Beverly Hills Dead (Rick Barron Series #2)

Beverly Hills Dead (Rick Barron Series #2)

by Stuart Woods

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Stuart Woods returns with the sequel to The Prince of Beverly Hills—a page-turning novel of murder, political intrigue, and betrayal set in 1940s Hollywood, the era of the “Red Scare,” when almost anyone could be suspect...

Rick Barron, a former Beverly Hills cop, has risen to the head of production of Centurion pictures, and he’s at the top of his game. But tensions are high in Hollywood, and when Rick’s friend Sidney Brooks, a successful screenwriter, receives a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee, Rick isn’t surprised. The witch hunt is spreading, and those under investigation are Rick’s closest friends—even his wife, the glamorous starlet Glenna Gleason.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451224781
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/02/2008
Series: Rick Barron Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 228,681
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington series. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods lives in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.


Key West, Florida; Mt. Desert, Maine; New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1938

Place of Birth:

Manchester, Georgia


B.A., University of Georgia, 1959

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Rick Barron took one last look through the viewfinder, then he turned to the assistant director. "Conversation," he said.

The AD held up a megaphone and shouted, "Conversation!"

At once, a hundred and fifty extras, packed into a set that was a replica of Sardi's, the famous theater-district restaurant in New York, began to talk.

"Acton," Rick said quietly.

"Speed," the camera operator replied.

Waiters began to move among the tables.

"Cue the entrance," Rick said.

"Entrance," the AD said into a microphone hanging around his neck. He signaled the dolly man, and the camera began to roll smoothly down the restaurant's main aisle toward the entrance of the restaurant.

The front door opened, and his leading lady, Glenna Gleason, wearing a gorgeous evening gown and followed by another actress and two actors, all in evening dress, walked in and were greeted by a Vincent Sardi look-alike. As they walked past the small bar and entered the dining room, the camera backtracked, and, on cue, all the diners stood and applauded.

Glenna managed to look shocked, then delighted as she followed "Sardi" to their table along the wall. The camera stopped and moved in closer as a microphone boom was lowered over the false wall to pick up their dialogue.

"My God," Glenna said, "I didn't know it would be like this."

The actor on her left turned to her. "Katherine," he said, "it's going to be like this from now on."

On Rick's signal, the camera began to dolly slowly away from the table and, keeping Glenna's party in the center of the frame, rose to a height of twelve feet and stopped.

"Keep the conversation going," Rick said from his chair on the boom next to the camera. He sat and watched the stopwatch in his hand for ninety seconds, which was what they needed to roll under the closing titles. "Cut!" he yelled, finally. "Print it! That's a wrap!" It was the fourth take, and it was perfect. They had shot the three scenes at Sardi's all on the same day, and now it was done: Rick had made his first feature film as a director. He sagged with relief as the camera operator pounded him on the back.

Then, to his astonishment, every actor on the set rose from his seat and gave the director a standing ovation. Rick stood up, holding on to the camera for support, then turned and faced the bulk of the crowd, "Cut!" he yelled again. "Start the party!"

A part of the rear wall of the set was rolled away, revealing a huge buffet table and a bar serving real booze instead of the tea in the prop glasses on the table. The crowd of extras surged toward the food and drink, and Rick signaled the boom operator to lower the camera to the floor. He hopped off and slid into a banquette beside his wife, giving her a big kiss. "Glenna, my darling, that was great. It's going to be wonderful, the whole thing."

Two of the actors got up from the table and made way for Eddie Harris, the chairman of Centurion Studios, and Sidney Brooks, the famous New York playwright, who had written the script for Times Square Dance.

"Rick," Eddie said, "congratulations."

Champagne appeared and was poured.

"I thought the last scene went beautifully," Brooks said to everybody.

"Sid, we're going to do your script proud," Rick said. "Just give me a couple of days, and I'll show you a rough cut."

"I can't wait," Brooks replied.

"I have to go pee," Glenna said, and Rick let her out of the banquette. The actor playing her husband got up, too, leaving Rick, Eddie Harris and Sidney Brooks at the table.

"Fellas," Brooks said, "I have to tell you something."

Rick looked at the man across the table. For the first time since he had met the playwright, the man looked less than happy.

"What's up, Sid?" Eddie asked.

"I wanted to tell you before it hits the papers tomorrow," Brooks said.

"Tell us what?" Rick asked.

"I've been subpoenaed by the House of Un-American Activities Committee, along with eighteen other people, mostly writers but a few actors and one director."

"Oh, shit," Eddie said. "Well, don't worry about it; get a good lawyer."

"I'm sorry, Sid," Rick said, "But Eddie is right about the lawyer."

"There's a meeting tomorrow," Brooks replied. "I want to tell you fellows…"

"You don't need to tell us anything," Eddie said.

"You mean, you'd rather not know, don't you Eddie?"

"The first thing your lawyer is going to tell you is to shut up," Eddie said. "I'm just giving you a head start; don't say anything to anybody, unless your lawyer approves it first."

"I'm not looking to drag anybody into this," Brooks said. "I just want to be honest with you. This picture has been the best experience I've had since I came out here four years ago; it's the first picture that's given me the same sort of satisfaction that writing a play used to."

"Look, Sid," Rick said, "these people are going to hold their hearings, grill some movie stars, and then it'll be over. Six months from now you'll have put it behind you."

Brooks set his briefcase on the table, opened it and pulled out a thick manila envelope. "I've been working on this for two years," he said. "I've never told anybody about it, but it's the best thing I've ever written for either the stage or film, and after the wonderful experience I've had with the production of Times Square Dance, I want you fellows to produce it, and, Rick, I'd be delighted if you'd direct again."

"Thank you, Sid," Rick said, and he meant it. "I'll read it tonight."

"Tell your agent to call Rick in the morning," Eddie said, "We'll have a deal before lunchtime."

"But you haven't even read it, Eddie," Brooks said, laughing.

"I don't need to. I'll buy it sight unseen."

Rick knew that wasn't quite true, but he knew that Eddie expected to like the script; he would want Rick's opinion first, though.

"It's a western," Brooks said.

"What?" Rick exclaimed. "The theater's urban genius has written a western?"

"The grittiest, down-and-dirtiest western you ever saw," Brooks said. "I love westerns, and I've always wanted to write one; to tell you the truth, it's the principal reason I came out here, just to get the opportunity. I've had the idea for a long time, but it wouldn't work on the stage, and I didn't want it produced without the level of participation you fellows have given me."

"Thank you, Sid," Rick said.

Glenna returned from the ladies' room and sat down. "I called home," she said. "The girls are fine, and I told Rosie to give them dinner and put them to bed. I take it we'll be here for a while."

"I think we will," Rick said. "I think I'd better circulate and thank everybody." He handed Brooks' script to her. "Guard this with your life," he said. "It's the next Sidney Brooks film."

"Oh, is there a part for me?" she asked excitedly.

"I haven't read it yet, sweetheart; I'll let you know tomorrow." Rick got up and began making his way around the Sardi's set, shaking hands, hugging and kissing and enduring many claps on the back.

A moment later, Eddie Harris caught up with him. "Listen, kid," he said, leaning into Rick's ear, "If that script is any good we need to get into production fast."

"I'm supposed to personally produce the new war film," Rick said. "We could do it right after that."

"I got a bad feeling about these HUAC hearings," Eddie said. "I'd rather have Sid's film in the can, even if we have to postpone production on the war movie."

"Okay. I'll call you when I've read it," Rick said. Eddie fell away, and Rick continued his rounds, but his euphoria at finishing shooting had been pricked by Eddie Harris, and air was leaking out.


Excerpted from "Beverly Hills Dead"
by .
Copyright © 2008 Stuart Woods.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Woods writes with smooth confidence as famous names add spice to a diverting summer read that simmers but never gets hard-boiled." -Kirkus Reviews on The Prince of Beverly Hills

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Beverly Hills Dead (Rick Barron Series #2) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At least this novel had the benifit of being somewhat fresh as it's only the second installment in this series. One of the flaws in this book 'and most of Woods' works' in my opinion is that all the characters that meet socially become instant fast friends and all business dealings go smoothly and everyone can't do enough good things or pay a high enough price to the people they deal with. I tend to think that the road to fame and fortune is a little rockier than depicted in this book. Oh, and Vance Calder, who is 19 years old, could easily be mistaken for a 40 year old.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A number of reviewers have written that this book falls far short of the standard of quality we've come to expect form Mr. Woods. While I agree this is not his best effort, there's quite a lot to like about it. His recreation of the period is vivid and almost 'cinematic' in detail. The plot contains enough surprises to keep you guessing all the way to the end. No masterpiece, but a solid diversion nonetheless.
catsinstacks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up at a resale shop because I have seen this author popularily displayed in bookstores. So, I thought I would give him a try. I like murder mysteries and thought Beverly Hills Dead would be a good one to read. I was very disappointed. The murder occured 3/4 through the book. The main theme is about the movie industry after WW2. I should have researched this author/book more before buying it.
jsharpmd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in post WWII before Stone Barrington who makes an appearance on the last few pages. Story of Vance Calder, Arrington's husband before she met Stone. Interesting regarding the HUAC and the impact on some of the Hollywood characters.
nancylombardo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK, I forgot to bring a book and this was the best the grocery store had to offer. Woods has a fast paced style that keeps the characters rather superficial. The deaths were unconnected and didn't connect the story very well, but overall it was readable and a lot better than no book at all!
JulieC0802 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You know how when you are getting to the last 50-100 pages of a book and you wonder how the writer will wrap it up without making it seemed rush? Well that's what Stuart Woods did in his latest novel Beverly Hills Dead. Beverly Hills Dead is a continuation of the characters he introduced in 2004's The Prince of Beverly Hills, except it doesn't take off right where the 1st book left off, it jumps a several years and fills you in on what we missed, which is perfect. We are in "old" Hollywood for the time period and during the "Red Scare" or the McCarthy era where people were blacklisted for being Communists. This is the main storyline and I found it very facinating but thought that it could have been a bit more flushed out or examined. Not only does the novel deal with politics in that nature but it also slightly touches on homosexuality but from the female perspective and how that would have played out in the 1940/1950s in Hollywood. Maybe the plots aren't strong but I always love Mr. Woods character development and he did a fantastic job again. I was thrilled when I read he was coming out with another Rick Barron novel. Rick Barron himself could be a movie star but he's not, he's an ex-cop who ends up making a good life for himself. His boss Eddie is hilarious and of course well connected. I found the part about shooting on location very interesting since it was rare in those days since most everything was shot in a backlot or studio. The book also briefly introduces us to the media medium called television and how it first got started. Within the first few chapters my mouth dropped because Mr. Woods tied in a major character from his series with Stone Barrington. I was thrilled and really enjoyed getting to know this person at this stage in their "life". Beverly Hills Dead isn't a complicated book by any means but there are a few good twists and turns and is an extremely enjoyable read. I always find myself not wanting to put his books down; therefore I typically read them in a a day or so. If you've never read a Stuart Woods book, I would say this is a good "series" to start with since there are only 2 and if you like them move on to his Stone Barrington books.
kingsportlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a Stuart Woods fan. This book was trite and predictable. The era is post WWII and is set in Hollywood during the "communist" witch hunt. Even bringing the House UnAmerican Activities Committee into the plot couldn't save it. I do not recommend Beverly Hills Dead. It was terribly disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read that spans some interesting and unfortunate times in recent US history.
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I have enjoyed past books by Stuart Woods. This one is just OK. It was interestingly set in the 40s which made it a little different. Simple story and a one time read. --K--
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Guest More than 1 year ago
While I agree this is not Mr. Woods best book, it is an easy read, entertaining, simple story - what I would call a beach read or a day at the pool. If you read the Stone Barrington series, you will wonder what, if any, the end of this book is setting up..........