Following her debut noir The Lady Upstairs, Halley Sutton takes us once again into the underbelly of Hollywood. Told in one narrative voice like the noirs of the 40s, The Hurricane Blonde’s narrator Salma “Salmon” Lowe has sunk to new depths. The child of Hollywood royalty and once a promising child star, Salma has never gotten over the strangulation death of Tawney her famous sister known as “The Hurricane Blonde.” Salma, a recovering addict, leads tours for Stars Six Feet Under to where dead starlets met their end, including her sister.
Tawney’s death has never been solved and this haunts Salma. Plus, her sister’s fiancé, Cal Turner, a brilliant and dangerous director, is filming a movie about Tawney’s life and death. Salma suspects he killed Tawney and is upset that he has the audacity to make this movie. Salma forces her way onto the set with the motive of keeping the story true. Then, during one of the Stars Six Feet Under tours, she stops at the house where her sister died and discovers the body of a young woman floating in the pool, a young woman who looks very much like her sister. The young woman turns out to be the actress who was supposed to play Tawney in the movie.
This spurs Salma to investigate the past, and she unburies ugly family secrets, lies, and Hollywood’s ability to cover up whatever will hurt the money machine that eats up young starlets and their dreams.
This is not a new story. Both The Last Songbird and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo cover much the same territory. But Sutton’s story puts us in Salma’s shoes and we feel the trauma, frustration, and loss that comes from powerful men considered geniuses and, therefore, untouchable. For those who love Hollywood stories, The Hurricane Blonde will tick all the boxes, including famous L.A. locations like Chateau Marmont and the Cinedome Theater. Cal Turner, the enfant terrible director, will make your skin crawl, especially with how he shockingly abuses the woman playing Tawney in order to get what he considers the most effective portrayal of her death.
Sutton digs deep into the Hollywood story, planting The Hurricane Blonde firmly in noir, where the mystery is solved, but justice doesn’t prevail. A captivating and disturbing page-turner.
Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Putnam, and Halley Sutton for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
More Psychological Thrillers