Issue: June 1, 2010
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Pyne, Daniel (Author) Jul 2010. 240 p. Counterpoint, paperback, $14.95. (9781582435732).
Marginal Hollywood actor Jack Baylor ends an affair with the wife of his best friend, Tory, and knowing Tory’s anger-management issues, he retreats to the California desert town of Twentynine Palms to let the metaphorical dust settle. There he promptly begins an affair with Mona, a young mother of two. But Tory arrives in the town bent on revenge, Mona and her kids disappear, and Jack’s motel room is awash with blood. Jack is promptly arrested and must escape to clear himself. Character is everything in this desert- noir debut, and Jack is the embodiment of fecklessness; without a script, he’s simply lost. Rachel, a clever 14-year-old runaway, saves him repeatedly. In the book’s best scene, Jack returns to Hollywood, still on the run, for a bit part in a major film. Pyne, who is a successful screenwriter, limns a wonderfully plausible look at a showbiz-sound-stage moment: a clash between a loony director who speaks only quasi-mystical gibberish and an idiot box-office titan channeling De Niro. Twentynine Palms is great fun.
— Thomas Gaughan