Fall Out by M N Grenside.
Plenty of it and super nasty bad guys and stories so outrageously crazy they can only be true. We got McGuffin plotlines, the real deal (buried treasure), assassins, WWII, war criminals, dodgy coincidence, plot twisting surprises, Apocalypse Now, the fall of Saigon, a Buddha, the Cannes film festival and locations galore: Switzerland, France, the Philippines, Northern Ireland, and California. There’s film people and nice people – actually, scratch the last one, there are no nice people. With all that in mind – you ain’t seen nothing yet.
I just had a lot of fun letting this book carry me away. The story sounds kind of complex with plots inside the plot but it’s so well done by Grenside that it’s easy to follow. Firmly tongue in cheek and yet with enough excitement that it doesn’t just become farce. There’s parody and pastiche and boundless energy but also the exploitation of a clever idea.
Fall Out is inventive and, at times intentionally filmic, it’s about a script that could be a gold mine and a deadly secret connected to a unexplained unfinished film project that wrecked a number of careers. This novel has that insider humour that lampoons the preposterous over blown, skewed nature of Hollywood while still feeling the love we all share for the film capital of the world. From the opening where Sam Wood, writer, takes a bullet in an unnecessarily complicated assassination The fun doesn’t stop for 440 pages. The hit is made to look like a robbery/stabbing which it just as easily could have been in the first place – but hell! That’s not Hollywood: think big, outlandish, strange.
It all begins in:
Pagsanjan, Philippines, November, 1944. Finally the work is complete, Major Ito Okobudo of the Imperial Japanese Army addresses the assembled workers, (allied prisoners slave labour), congratulating them on their work and his officers on Japanese ingenuity. Ceremony over the orders are clear, no witnesses, General Yamashita has arrived to see to that personally, bad news for Okobudo too. The Cave and it’s contents are to remain a secret, even when he is executed for war crimes Yamashita take the secret to his grave.
Venice Beach, LA, 2020. Sam Wood types ‘The End’, and it’s done, the script for Fall Out is finished. A story of ‘greed, a secret fortune, a broken friendship, betrayal and murder.’ The script is sent to a select audience, people who’ve been harbouring a secret for more than twenty years:
‘Who would realise that FALL OUT was a road map to their past.’
Sam thinks back to the first script he wrote for Hollywood and how years later that led to him working with Marcus Riley again on The Last Company in the Philippines, a doomed project. He wondered what the reaction will be to Fall Out.
The buzzer goes, there’s a delivery man at the door, pretending to need a telephone. Like an innocent, not smelling a rat, Sam let the killer into his home. The delivery/assassin had met Sam before but he was counting on him not remembering. Sam had just enough time to register shock before the cunningly disguised weapon fired the fatal shot into his heart. Covering his tracks the killer ransacked the safe and stole Sam possessions.
By then Marcus Riley has the script and thinks it’s solid gold, his career is down the toilet, this is the lifeline, he has to have it. He goes to see Sam, luckily for him he has an alibi for the time of the murder as he gets arrested by LAPD. Other jackals begin circling the script, some appreciate the message, there’s a lot at stake. Meanwhile released from jail, Marcus is in the trail of the widow for the option rights, it’s what Sam would have wanted.
Fall Out is about the founding and fall of two criminal empires, about a heist at the US embassy on the fall of Saigon in 1975, but it really about…
You should know about Tan, he joined the Japanese when they came the Philippines, he has a talent for brutal murder, only he and the general returned to Manila after the incident at the cave, and since Tan has done well for himself. And, lastly, although there are plenty more characters in the book, there’s Jonathan but I don’t think I’ll tell you about him, just don’t turn your back!
Some films are murder – literally!
Grenside is working on the follow up novel Bastion which will be released in 2021. I’ll be looking out for that.
URBANE Publications, available as eBook now, paperback 21/5/20, ISBN 9781912666751