In Hollywood, you're not made until you've made a movie.
First-time author Daniel Depp introduces private investigator David Spandau, an ex-stuntman familiar with the ins and outs of Hollywood -- a smart, tough, and wickedly funny observer of la vie L.A. -- whose patience is almost sapped when he's hired to protect actor Bobby Dye from a blackmailing scheme gone wrong. Dye -- young, brash, and on the verge of becoming a major star -- has been set up by gangster Richie Stella, a nightclub owner and drug dealer with dreams of becoming a Hollywood producer. And he has a movie perfect for Bobby; problem is, it's the worst script anyone's ever read. But Richie is not easy to say no to, and when he retaliates, the game gets a little more deadly for more than a few of its players.
A Hollywood insider himself, Depp is no stranger to the temptations and illusions of the City of Angels and its ambitious, cutthroat denizens. Loser's Town is charged with the elements of all great L.A. noir -- crackling dialogue, fast-paced plot, and seedy, jaded characters -- and Depp brings a few new tricks to the genre with sadistic talent agents, washed-up actors looking for their second coming, and small-time hustlers just trying to make a modest living outside the limelight. Loser's Town is a deftly written thriller -- a gruesomely hilarious, occasionally wistful depiction of what goes on beneath those white letters on the mountainside.
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Daniel Depp was born in Kentucky and read Classics at university there. He has been a journalist, bookseller, and a teacher. There have been several exhibitions of his photographs, and he has also taught scriptwriting. He divides his time between California and France, where he writes and produces screenplays. Loser’s Town is his first novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
As the van turned off Laurel Canyon and up onto Wonderland, Potts said to Squiers, "How many dead bodies have you seen?"
Squiers thought for a minute, his face squinted as if thought were painful to him. Potts figured it probably was. Finally Squiers said, "You mean, like, in a funeral home or just laying around?"
This sort of thing never failed to drive Potts crazy. You ask him a simple question and he takes three fucking days and then gives you a stupid answer. This is why he hated working with him.
"Jesus, yeah, okay, just fucking laying around. Not your fucking grannie in her coffin."
This sent Squiers into another round of thought and facial manipulation. I could go out for a freaking cup of coffee while he's thinking, Potts said to himself. Potts wanted to hit him with something. Instead he bit his lip and turned his head to watch the houses they passed.
The elderly van trudged up the steep, winding street that seemed to go on forever. Squiers drove, as always, because Squiers liked driving and Potts didn't. In Potts's opinion, you had to be an idiot or a maniac to enjoy driving in Los Angeles. Squiers qualified as both. Potts read somewhere that there were more than ten million people in L.A., people who spent literally half their lives on the roads. In some places twelve lanes of traffic going eighty miles an hour, bumper to bumper, within inches of one another. Careening along in several tons of glass and metal, your knuckles white on the wheel. You go too slow they run over your ass. You go too fast you can't stop in time when some old fart brakes at a senile hallucination, standing a lane of a hundred cars on its nose. You got no choice but to do whatever everybody else is doing, no matter how stupid. Mainly you just do it and try not to think about the mathematical impossibility of it all, the sheer, mindless optimism that any of this could function for longer than fifteen seconds without getting you killed or mangled. On the other hand, every fifteen seconds somebody actually was getting killed or mangled on an L.A. freeway, so it was perfectly sane to stress about it. You had to have a fucking death wish to drive in L.A.
What Potts hated mainly, though, was that you were forced to pretend people knew what they were doing when they clearly didn't. You look out the window at the faces hurtling past and they give you no reason for hope. Whizzing past goes a collection of drunks, hormonal teenagers, housewives fighting with their kids, hypertense execs screaming into cell phones, the ancient, the half blind, the losers with no reason to keep living, the sleep-deprived but amphetamine-amped truck drivers swinging a gazillion-tonned rig of toilet supplies. Faces out of some
goddamned horror movie. One false move and everybody dies. You had to lie to yourself in order to function. This is what got to Potts. Potts was no optimist. You spend five years in a Texas prison and it changes your view of what people are like. Jesus, so many fucking psychos loose in the world it's a wonder we manage to wake in our beds alive, much less navigate a fucking superhighway. Then you were forced to shove all this aside, cram it into some little cupboard in your brain and shut it away, whenever you walked out the fucking door in the morning. You had to make yourself forget everything you knew about life, everything you knew to be true, and pretend that people were somehow Good and not the collection of thieves and madmen and basic shits you knew them to be. This is what drove Potts crazy. It was exhausting, this burden of self-deception. The goddamn weight of it made him tired all the time.
Potts looked over at Squiers, who stared straight ahead over the wheel, brow creased, mimicking the act of human thought. Squiers was huge, pale, and dumb, Potts's exact opposite, and Potts almost admired him. Potts hated being around him, of course, and felt the world would clearly be a much safer place if Squiers happened to get run over by a train. Squiers was slow and plodding and whatever happened in his head bore no resemblance to what happened in Potts's. Squiers never worried, never got nervous or frightened, could fall asleep standing up like a goddamn Holstein. Never questioned anything, never contributed an answer, never argued. He'd either do something or he wouldn't, and you could never be sure which way it would go, since there appeared to be no thought process behind it. Squiers was maybe the happiest person Potts had ever met. There were no conflicts in his life. You give Squiers a nice blood-soaked chainsaw movie or a pile of cheap porno mags and Squiers was as content as a child. Meanwhile Potts had a bad stomach and couldn't remember a time when the sky wasn't fixing to collapse on him. Potts had to envy him a little, while still hating his psychotic guts. Richie called them Mutt and Jeff, made jokes about their each being one half of the perfect employee, though utter fuckups individually. Potts didn't like Richie very much either, though Richie paid well and ex-cons couldn't be too choosy.
The van climbed up and up, out of this world and into the next, past fancy-ass places costing millions of bucks but still had their asses on stilts hanging a hundred feet over a goddamn canyon. For that kind of money you'd think you could get a backyard. Potts couldn't imagine life without a backyard, you had to have a backyard. Someplace you could go out and drink a beer and barbecue a goddamn hamburger. Even the little shitpile he rented out in Redlands had a fucking backyard. The truth was, though, the whole Hollywood Hills scene was bullshit. For a couple of million bucks you got a dinky house with no yard at all and its ass hanging over a goddamn abyss. Well yeah, that was fucking Hollywood all over, wasn't it? The whole goddamn place was a con. Movies stars my ass. A bunch of suckers. Give me a house with a backyard anytime.
"A hundred and twenty-three," said Squiers.
Potts looked at him. "What?"
"Dead bodies I seen."
"You lying sack of shit. A hundred and twenty-three? What kind of number is that? You a fucking guard at Auschwitz or something? Jesus."
"No, no kidding. I saw a plane crash once. A hundred and fucking twenty-three people perished."
Squiers saying that word, perished, really irritated the hell out of Potts. He was lying, he'd heard it somewhere on the news, and the newscaster had said perished. Squiers didn't even know what it meant, where the hell would he get off using a word like that. Potts decided to nail him on it.
"You saw a plane crash."
"Yeah, that's right."
"You actually saw it crash."
"No, I didn't actually see it, like, hit the ground. But I come along right after it did, when all the fire trucks were there and shit."
"And you saw the bodies?"
"You saw the bodies, right? A hundred and twenty-three fucking bodies, thrown all over the ground. And you counted them, right? One, two, three, a hundred and twenty-three?"
"Well, no, shit, I didn't actually see the bodies, but they were there. A hundred and twenty three-people on that plane and they all perished."
Potts took a deep breath and sighed. "What did I ask you?"
"When I asked you how many bodies you've seen. I said seen. That's the word I used. I didn't say how many bodies have you heard about, how many the fucking bozo on the news said there were. Are you grasping this?"
"They were there, man. I didn't have to see them. It was a fucking planeload of people."
"But the point is, you didn't actually see them, did you? You heard about them, but you didn't actually see them with your own little eyes. Am I correct?"
"Yeah but -- "
"No, no fucking but. Did you actually, personally, with your own eyes, see a hundred and twenty-three bodies? Just yes or no. Yes or no."
Squiers steamed for a minute, he wriggled his ass a little in the driver's seat, then he said curtly: "No."
"Aha!" said Potts. "I rest my case."
The van climbed slowly up the steep winding road. It was three o'clock in the morning and a goddamn fog coming in didn't help matters. They had to stop several times to check the streets. It was like a rat maze up here. It seemed to Potts that the climb was endless. He didn't like heights. He liked nice flat ground, that's why he lived in the desert.
"This is it," Potts said.
They stopped at a large metal gate. Squiers edged the van up next to the keypad. Squiers looked at Potts, who was shuffling around the various pockets of the combat gear he liked to wear.
"You got the code?"
"Yeah, of course I've got the code." Truth was, Richie had written the code on a little Post-it note and given it to him and now Potts couldn't find it. He'd taken it from Richie back at the club and hadn't thought about it and now he couldn't find the goddamn thing. He fought back a rising panic attack. Squiers, the bastard, was watching him with a barely hidden smirk on his face. He was hoping Potts couldn't find it so they'd have to call Richie and Richie would rip Potts a new asshole. Squiers was pissed about the airplane thing and was too dumb to figure out how to get revenge on his own.
At last Potts found the Post-it note, stuck in one of the chest pockets on his camouflage jacket. He felt his bowels relax and Squiers looked disappointed. Potts tried to look cool, as if it hadn't been any sweat, and read the code to Squiers, who reached through the window and punched it in. The gate shuddered a little then opened and they drove through.
The house was perched on a knoll right up at the very end of Wonderland Avenue. As the gate shut behind them, they climbed up the narrow drive to a level paved area where the garage was. There was a sharp right and the drive continued up at a steep angle to the house itself. Squiers parked the van in front of the garage. They got out and stared at the steep rise.
"Shit," said Potts. "How are the parking brakes on this fucker?"
"Hell, I dunno. It ain't my van."
"We have to back it up and park the bastard there," Potts said, motioning up the drive. "And you better hope the son of a bitch don't roll downhill and go shoot...
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Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 352 pages. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk1847374077
Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. No.1 BESTSELLERS - great prices, friendly customer service â€" all orders are dispatched next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000380991