From the London Times
by Alyson Rudd
This is Rupert Holmes’s first novel, but he had a reputation to protect. He has won Tony awards, an Emmy and an Edgar for a Broadway thriller, written songs for Gene Pitney and worked with Barbra Streisand His book does not disappoint. He writes with the confidence of having been fêted and has produced a stunning story.
Where the Truth Lies is set in 1970s Hollywood. O’Connor is a young, sexy and ambitious journalist who has her sights set on interviewing Vince Collins and Lanny Morris, a hugely popular comedy duo in the 1950s. She is convinced that they have something to hide. They had links with the Mafia and a body was once found in their hotel. They had cast-iron alibis then, but O’Connor wants to rake up the past.
The key questions
• Does Holmes succeed in creating the voice of a woman in her twenties?
• Did you stop thinking in terms of Collins and Morris and start to see real-life characters such as Dean Martin?
• Is O’Connor seduced by fame and wealth or is she genuinely attracted to these two older men?
• Are the 1970s brought to life?
• Can you find any snags as the plot unfolds?
• Have you seen the film of the book? If so, how does it compare?
“THINGS WERE SIMPLY VERY different then,” O’Connor writes in the preface to a story that she started researching in the 1970s. Holmes wants us to believe that the story is true and that a young, attractive woman journalist is writing it. I wonder how many people did think they were reading something, if not completely true, at least based on real events Rupert Holmes is very convincing.
O’Connor is ambitious, sexy and clever. She wants to write a book about Vince Collins, a film star who hit his peak in the 1950s with his partner Lanny Morris. O’Connor’s publishers are prepared to offer Vince $1 million as she has convinced them that she can make him tell the truth about a body that was found in his and Lanny’s hotel room in their heyday.
The body was that of a room-service girl. Both Vince and Lanny have solid alibis for the time of her death; they were on live television raising money for charity. They were never accused of anything, but their partnership did not survive the scandal Vince needs the money and agrees to co-operate with O’Connor. We later learn that he is much more desperate for cash than he has let on, but in the meantime, O’Connor is pleased with her sales pitch and flies to New York to meet her boss.
Here the story really takes off. Lanny is also on the flight, sitting in front of her. When dinner is served, the air hostess pulls Lanny’s seat around and O’Connor finds herself sitting opposite a man whom she is potentially trying to ruin. Thinking on her feet, she pretends to be a schoolteacher named Bonnie Trout. Lanny likes her, she likes him and, by the end of the flight, some sort of sexual encounter seems inevitable.
But O’Connor is still pretending to be Bonnie and there is a beautiful scene in which Lanny insists on seeing her to her door a door that she has never seen. The reader thinks she has conjured Bonnie out of thin air and the tension is almost unbearable. But Bonnie exists, she is O’Connor’s friend and the journalist has keys to her apartment, even though she has never visited it before.
That is just one of many twists, all of which work and were the reason, no doubt, that the book was made into a film, which starred Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon.
One of the book’s many qualities that the film chose to ignore was the wit of O’Connor’s descriptions and dialogue. A hysterical passenger on the New York flight is calmed by the mere presence of celebrity after Lanny is asked to help. “If I crash with you, Lanny, it was worth it,” gushes the woman convinced two minutes earlier that turbulence would bring down the aircraft. If you were reading this novel on a flight, you probably wouldn’t notice the turbulence.
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