Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blonde Lightning -- Terrill Lee Lankford

Last night I read Terrill Lee Lankford's new novel, Blonde Lightning. By coincidence, Lankford has a long post up on Ed Gorman's blog tonight, so you should check it out.

But about Blonde Lightning. It's a sequel to Earthquak Weather, which I mentioned a while back. Like that book, Blonde Lightning could be called a crime novel, but it's also a book about Hollywood, about how a low-budget movie gets made, about friendship, about relationships, about life and death and chance. (I even suspect there's a Conway Twitty fixation lurking in there somewhere, but I can't find the Harold Jenkins reference again, so I could be wrong. I'm not wrong about the Twitty part, though.) Anyway there's a lot going on.

The narrator is once again Mark Hayes, who's not really a very nice guy. You kind of forgive him because all he really wants to do is make movies, and he keeps getting dragged into things by Clyde McCoy, the writer who plays a prominent part in Earthquake Weather. Clyde wants to make movies, too, but he has even fewer principles than Mark. Their relationship is at the heart of the novel, and I was reminded a little bit of The Long Good-Bye (the Altman movie version more than the Chandler novel). Hayes isn't great at relationships, and it's no surprise that the ones he's involved in never end well. Hayes is a survivor, however, as he proved in the earlier book. He'll do what it takes to get by, even if it's something he'd really rather not be involved in. His ethics are his own, as someone once said, and they're flexible.

I liked Earthquake Weather quite a bit, and Blonde Lightning is just as good. Maybe better. You should read them both, in the proper order. So go get started.


Aldo said...

Another great read. Lee has the gift and provides us the reader with that insiders look at Hollywood.

Have you read his earlier books?

Glen Davis said...

There's nothing wrong with a Conway Twitty fixation.

It's only make believe.

Anonymous said...

Bill, thanks for the great review. But I have to clarify one thing before it burns out of control. I don't have a Conway Twitty fixation (not that there is anything wrong with that).

The name Twitty shows up late in the book in honor of my first girlfriend, from way back in sixth grade. Her name was Tracy Twitty. I've always wondered what happened to her.

If life was a movie, she'd see her name in that book and drop me a line to tell me how it all turned out.

Hope she ended up a librarian.


Bill said...

OK, but now I'm gonna have to look for that Harold Jenkins reference.