Parallel Lies By Stella Duffy

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The Independent Culture

Many contemporary novels have explored the dark side of celebrity. Stella Duffy's spirited slice of Hollywood noir deflates some of the more self-important pontificating on the subject. Russian-born Yana Ivanova is an A-list star living in Beverly Hills. She shares her poolside mansion with Jimmy, a B-list sitcom star, and Penny, her British PA. Penny likes to sleep with men who get a kick out of being "one degree of separation from the most desirable woman in town". The screen siren herself - when she sleeps with anyone - prefers to share her bed with Penny. This menage suits all concerned, until Yana starts receiving threatening letters from an anonymous but knowledgeable source. Secrets are revealed and murder is committed. Stella Duffy paints a convincing and sassy portrait of LA life: the dreamy homes, drugs and sanitised sex. For all their peccadilloes, this "little family of liars" turns out to be more motivated by ambition than desire. Both mistress and servant are driven by what Penny describes as "the uber-ambition that only the truly successful ever have. Mostly they try to hide it because it really doesn't look very nice." Duffy is the author of murder mysteries and novels about the pitfalls of lesbian romance. Here she combines both genres in a frisky send-up of La-La-Land's more determined players.

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