Readers never seem to get enough stories about the dark underbelly of Hollywood during the '40s and '50s. But instead
of retelling a familiar case, such as the murder of the Black Dahlia or George Reeves' suicide, Abbott fictionalizes the real-life 1949 disappearance of showgirl and bit-part player Jean Spangler. Her descriptions are so lush, vivid and lurid that you'll feel totally immersed in the Hollywood demimonde, swigging hooch and peeping in bungalow windows alongside her tortured protagonist.

Hollywood studio publicity flack Gil "Hop" Hopkins owes his current plum position to a little cleanup work he did for the two movie stars last seen with Jean Spangler before her disappearance two years ago. But when Jean's friend Iolene shows up at his office and asks him to help her, he becomes guiltily obsessed with the case of the "lost girl" and his part in the cover-up. (Simon and Schuster, Jan., 256 pp., $23.00)
Reviewed by: 
Liz French