Russ Tobin In Hollywood PAPERBACK - click for a bigger version Russ Tobin In Hollywood HARDBACK - click for a bigger version

  • Number Of Editions

 Hardback edition on WH Allen and paperback on Star

  • Marks out of 10 for Cover

 After the strangeness of the Hard Up / Up Tight covers, we finally see a return to the semi-naked lady theme. This time it's a cheerleader in an Uncle Sam outfit - except with her shirt wide-open and no pants on. Why she is holding a gigantic cotton bud is anyone's guess! She doesn't look altogether unlike Farrah Fawcett - which was probably a huge selling point in 1978. In the paperback version she is lying back and brazenly baring her chest (you know that times are changing as this is actually the first Tobin novel to feature two uncovered nipples on the jacket) whilst in the hardback version she is lay on her front showing us her buttocks instead! These hardback editions were primarily intended for libraries, so they perhaps wanted to tone the image down slightly, as it would be on public display. For some reason the paperback version has the words "On The Way Up" underneath the picture - which is the exact same tagline as was used in "A Blow For Gabriel Horn"... Anyway - enough pointless trivia. 8/10

  • Cover Notes

 Stanley Morgan has a phenomenal record for writing best-sellers - starring heroes like Russ Tobin, Gabriel Horn, the Fly Boys and Albert Shifty - and has over three million readers. In "Russ Tobin in Hollywood" his intrepid hero is "California Dreamin"

Tobin is in Twinkle City at last, heading out in his hired car for a plush house on Santa Monica Beach and two slinky air-hostesses who will provide the last word in hospitality and go to any lengths to entertain him. He's going to swim and surf, hang around the movie lots and just wait for someone to uncover his talent, and with Tobin that won't take more than five minutes.

But for newcomers, Los Angeles is not just a city of tinsel dreams, but also a city of mystery - if Russ doesn't find the right exit from the freeway system soon, he may never reach the beach or the amorous air-hostesses at all...

  • Brief Description of the Plot

  Yet again, we find the book starting on familiar ground, as Russ is at the airport (Heathrow) about to embark on the next leg of his adventures. It's early August, a week after the events in the previous book. He has 1000 pounds in Traveller's Cheques (enough - he hopes! - to last him 2 months) and a return ticket (despite Gerta only buying him a one-way ticket at the end of Hard Up!). As usual he meets a stranger on the plane, this time a young American by the name of Matt Holden. As well as the usual chat, they watch the Charles Bronson film "St Ives" - which came out in July 1976 - so that muddies the timeline even more. The book was written in 1978 and Hard-Up/Up-Tight had already set the year to 1977. So the film would have already been at least a year old, not the usual "new film" treat you would get on a long haul flight back then.

But we digress, Tobin gets a promise of a call from Matt in a week or so (Matt having to head to San Diego as soon as they land) and finally makes it to Hollywood, landing about 5:30pm. He hires a car, almost gets lost and then when he finally makes it to the address he's meant to be staying at - it's empty! He pokes around the back, looking for signs of life and before he knows it - he's got himself arrested. Air-Hostess Sam gets him out of jail and Russ of course shows his thanks in the way he knows best - but not before he gets jealous of her relationship with "Harold" - which turns out to be the cat!

The next day, Russ goes out for a drive and to have a nose at the big Beverly Hills and Bel Air houses (including Leslie Neilsen - who have course Stanley met whilst filing Night Train To Paris together in 1964) - however, it seems like Russ used up all his luck in the previous book as he promptly gets himself arrested AGAIN for loitering around the house of one of the Agents he was hoping to meet. He spends the rest of the day banged up before they can confirm his alibi and by 7pm he's finally home again, where he gets to meet Air-Hostess #2 Barbie. She takes him to a wild swinging Hollywood party held by the latest Punk Rock phenomenon "Little Bo Creep".

At this point Stan really shows his age (he was 48), as his description of the burgeoning Punk Rock scene as "World War Three set to non-music, self-indulgence gone beserk - a cover-up for a total lack of talent" surely didn't hit home with his younger readers. Even Russ, at 26 years old, despises the concert and the whole setpiece is jarring. Several pages of disgust are expressed at the very idea of Punk Rock and at one point, literally on the verge of a panic attack, Russ describes it as a "cuntish cauldron"! (Possibly one of Stan's greatest ever turns-of-phrase?) Bo Creep is described as a Johnny Rotten type, and the stage show, violent and destructive. Sounds pretty good to me if I'm honest!

To escape the music, and avoid his own mental collapse, he goes wandering around the mansion, where he meets a girl and discusses Chaucer with her. Nope, of course he doesn't really. He gets her into bed. She then disappears and he meets ANOTHER girl who takes to him to see a blue movie (You seriously wonder why Russ isn't just a little bit sick of this happening to him so often). Just as they are about to get down to business - Russ realises that she is a FELLA! As free-thinking as our hero may be - that is NOT ON so he storms out. Shortly after this he improbably gets arrested and released for the THIRD time, with the book ending after his first contact with the Hollywood Agent Frank Schneider, a first (very brief voice-over job) and Russ, of course, pondering if stardom is really just around the corner??

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first eyes up a lady

 Page 8. Russ is at the check-in desk at Heathrow and he mentions that the girl at the desk has "big lumps" in her sweater! (NOT one of Stan's greatest turns-of-phrase)

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first gets to know a lady in the biblical sense

 Not until Page 73 - but we can forgive Russ - he's just had a 13 hour trans-atlantic flight and been arrested. He does well to be in the mood at all!

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first drinks a Vodka Tonic

 Shockingly NO vodka tonics at all in this episode. On the plane he gets in the Yankee mood by drinking Budweiser with his new flight companion Matt Holden.

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first reminisces about a previous adventure

 Russ gives a comprehensive breakdown of how he came to be at Heathrow Airport on his way to LA on the very first page.

  • Serious points raised

 That the Police in Los Angeles are RIGHT bastards and that no one will ever get anywhere with this new fangled "punk rock" music

  • Rating on the MORGANOMETER

 A lot more "plot" going on than in the previous couple of books - certainly some great comedy moments (particularly the point when Russ realises that Herc is in the hands of a BLOKE!). Much like the previous book, Stan seems to have dispensed with the "buddy" action altogether, and apart from meeting Matt on the flight, Russ is all alone. It doesn't particularly suffer for it, so we give it a respectable 8/10