Daniel Depp - Loser’s Town
(Simon & Schuster)
Daniel Depp’s claim to fame to date is being the half-brother of movie star Johnny and co-writing The Brave, which was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or prize at Cannes in 1997. As a former Hollywood screenwriter (and apparently producer, though its hard to find a screen credit for the latter) the less well-known Depp sibling is well positioned to dig the dirt on Tinseltown. And that’s exactly what he does with his debut novel, a hardboiled crime drama set in modern day Los Angeles that aims to expose, as the book’s cover blurb insists, the dark side of the Hollywood dream.
No doubt, Depp knows a thing or two about the cynicism and corruption of the ironically nicknamed City of Angels, and in particular the entertainment industry to which it is home. That he’s chosen to write his exposé under the aegis of crime fiction is fair enough, as Hollywood has inspired a good deal of the best of it from Elmore Leonard to James Ellroy. Unfortunately, Depp doesn’t have the literary skills to translate his insider knowledge into a compelling read. The characters are genre clichés, from gone-to-seed private detective David Spandau through brattish and egotistical film star Bobby Dye to sleazy smalltime gangster Richie Stella. The plot of Stella trying to intimidate Dye into making a movie is rudimentary, and the conclusion – the movie business is more criminal than Stella’s narcotics trade – is trite. All that’s left are some rather laboured observations about how crummy people are in LA.