Thursday, 6 October 2011

North of Sunset - Henry Baum

Title: North of Sunset
Author: Henry Baum
Genre: Thriller
Published: 2006
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
Amazon UK
Apple iBookstore UK

North of Sunset is a rather enjoyable thriller set in the rather self-obsessed celebrity world of Hollywood. It mainly focuses on two characters, the first is gifted movie star Michael Sennet who is world famous, has a gorgeous wife and lives a life where pretty everything revolves around him. However, he has become bored and is already looking for the next big thing to take him to a new level of fame and experience. Then there is Curt Knudsen, a follower of a group that talks about the perceived ills of the world, but secretly he is a serial killer that the media have named the Vanity Plate Killer. He randomly targets and kills people based on their vanity plates and his personal feelings on the person. The story follows these two characters and the various people they interact with over a couple of weeks in which various actions lead these two people from very different worlds towards each other.

The story is engrossing, with scandal, sex, murder and deceit visible throughout. However, it is more than just a exciting thriller, the author also takes a very satirical look at the obsession with celebrity culture and the dark underbelly of Hollywood. The prime example of this is that even though there is a serial killer on the loose, everyone in the novel seems to be thinking about how great a movie it would possibly make rather than about the loss of lives or the possible risk to their own.

At first I wasn’t that sure about the characters, I didn’t really like them that much due to the vain and arrogant attitudes constantly on display. However, I can actually believe that these people would really act like that and I am sure that many other readers could easily imagine the people of Hollywood acting in this manner. In addition they are well written and due to the nature of the writing, you really feel like you get into their heads and understand what they are doing and why.

One warning I do have to make is that Henry Baum has included a fair amount of strong profanity throughout the novel. Whilst I felt the characters and their attitudes fitted this language, I know that some readers may find this to be rather unappealing.

To be honest, the only thing that I wasn’t fond about in the novel was the ending. Whilst I will admit I was surprised by the route the story took, I felt that it was all a little bit too clean and contrived for my liking. Funnily enough, the ending actually reminded me of something you may see in a movie but perhaps that was actually the point.

In summary, North of Sunset is an exciting thriller told in a fast pace with an entertaining mix of sex, scandal and deceit that would actually probably make North of Sunset a decent movie. However, this book is more than this, with the satirical look at Hollywood and the excellent narrative enhancing the novel and making it a great page-turner.