Hollywood Shakedown

  • Hollywood ShakedownAuthor: Mark Barry
  • Published: April 2015 (2nd Edition) by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Thriller, Dark Humour
  • five-stars

Buddy Chinn, the son of a lauded beat poet from the seventies, is happy to follow the dishonourable family tradition of booze, bets, books and broads. Then, at Hollywood Park one winter Saturday afternoon, two tough guys persuade him to join them on a trip to Damascus, a sprawling mansion off Mulholland Drive, a palace surrounded by a forest of imported trees and lush vegetation.There, he meets Mortimer Saxon, a, reclusive obsessive manuscript collector with an edge. A sharp suited zealot searching for Buddy’s dad’s fabled Lost Manuscript; a one-off, a unique piece worth thousands and thousands of dollars, an American literary icon similar in cult magnitude to Hunter S Thompson’s “Call to the Post.” He asks Buddy whether he can help. Buddy hasn’t a clue. Not a scooby. Trouble is, Mortimer doesn’t believe him. Over the finest steak dinner Buddy has ever eaten, the collector makes him a proposition. 

Buddy Chinn loves three things; betting on the horses, alcohol and his unreliable girlfriend, Monique. He’s an erstwhile writer, although nowhere near his famous father’s league, and would easily make a good living, if he could be bothered. Thirty eight years old and nothing much to show for it, he’s content to let life pass him by. Until one day at Hollywood Park he’s approach by two hoodlums who take him to meet Mortimer Saxon, a fanatical collector of the work of American writers.

After being transported to a mock Tudor mansion and given an incredible dining experience, Saxon issues Buddy with a challenge. A challenge with an underlying threat. Saxon wants Buddy’s father’s unpublished work, particularly a manuscript and letters between Henry Chinn and Robert Fishbein, a great chess player from the 1970s. Buddy has two weeks to find the items for Saxon and dependent on the outcome, Buddy will either be $100,000 richer or have a much closer, and very unpleasant, acquaintance with Saxon’s heavies, Ramirez and Bishop. Buddy hasn’t a clue where to start so he enlists the help of Simon Harris, a comic collector and British ex-pat. 

Simon took a long deep drink of his beer and put the empty glass to one side as if satisfied. He put his hands together so they resembled a church steeple. “Don’t worry about that,” he said. “If it lives, we can find it. I can deal with the website stuff, and I know a couple of fellas who might be able to help, one local. So, what’s the payoff? You say…a hundred large?’ “One hundred thousand dollars for the manuscript,” Buddy reaffirmed. “There is a downside, don’t forget.”

“What might that be?”

“You might get hurt. You come in, you’re part of it. These mothers mean business.”

Buddy and Simon’s meeting with the Librarian, a collector Simon knows, sets them on a course across the Atlantic via Chicago to connect with another collector who may be able to help them. It’s the last thing Buddy wants to do and the thoughts of what his unconventional and free-spirited Monique is getting up to eat away at him. He’s right to worry.

Buddy has difficulty with relationships, caused by insecurity and lack of motivation. The absence of his father while growing up is like a scab that won’t heal and colours Buddy’s attitude to life. Human emotions are explored and laid bare, greed, love, ruthlessness, indolence, but for all its serious side, the story has lots of humour, especially when Buddy is introduced to Cockney rhyming slang, football, English pronunciation and Bovril. I completely agree with his opinion of the latter. Simon is a great foil for Buddy and they play off each other extraordinarily well, each having traits the other lacks.

Mark Barry has a terrific way with words and has created a vivid and compelling narrative. Although initially not a very appealing character Buddy is original and offbeat. I found myself absolutely rooting for him as the story progressed, appreciating his character and how the past shaped him. I loved the help he receives from the figure who has most influenced him, for better or worse, at a particularly opportune moment.  Hollywood Shakedown is an extremely enjoyable, fast paced story with a wonderful cast of characters, from engaging to dark and sinister and with a totally unpredictable and memorable ending.

Book links ~ Amazon US Amazon UK

About the author

MarkBarryMark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.  

He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.

He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club. Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds. 

He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction.

Author links ~ Website, Twitter, Goodreads

15 thoughts on “Hollywood Shakedown

  1. Hi Cathy, thank you for reading and reviewing Hollywood. It was my debut novel, written in 2009. Let me tell you and your readers a little story. I have readers who consider this my best book by far. One of whom won’t read anything else and says I’ve spoilt reading for her. It took me ages to write, it spans the world, has characters which, by my standards, are the closest an Indie reader would come to expect and with the exception of Carla, has introduced more readers to my work than any other.
    Yet, Cathy, its been a proper struggle to sell and/or get people to read. Even readers who have enjoyed my other work. Why? Haven’t a scooby do, as Simon would say.
    Hopefully your review might help it catch light because, at the very least, it has some amusing jokes, a beautiful and lively heroine, and an absolutely dreadful villain readers can genuinely hate. I have been asked to write a sequel many times, but the bloke who wrote this is fast asleep somewhere in some bar in East Hollywood so I’m going to have to see if I can find him and wake him up. Oh, and one more thing – the chapter from Monique’s perspective is possibly my favourite self-written chapter, especially the shoes ha ha. Thanks for this, Cathy, and thanks for enjoying it 🙂 Marky x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t understand why this hasn’t caught on at all, Mark. It’s now one of my favourite reads and I loved Monique’s chapter too – I couldn’t walk in those shoes though 😉 x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This has been on the to-read list for ages, I have to make myself try others as well as those I know I will love… but I think I might have to sneak it in before long!!

    Liked by 1 person

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