We all know by now that post ‘70s Harold Robbins’ novels give you nothing more than explicit sex in between melodramas. Not that there’s anything wrong with that if you’re into that sort of a thing. I know I am. But the best Robbins in my opinion come from his early career starting with NEVER LOVE A STRANGER which was turned into a less-than-stellar film starring John Drew Barrymore and a young Steve McQueen. His best of the best are hands down 1964 THE CARPETBAGGERS (also turned into a movie and a box-office champ) and this gem of a novel which I chose to discuss called WHERE LOVE HAS GONE (Pocket Books, 1963). Why that one? It’s the first Robbins novel that I truly connected with.
Based unofficially on the then-Lana Turner/Johnny Stompanato trial (Google it) that involved a knife and the daughter of the late movie star, this sordid tale follows the same paint-by-the-number murder case, but goes one step further by including the omitted denouement thought by all regarding the real-life scenario (again Google it). Protagonist Luke Lurey is the ex-husband caught in the middle, whose ever-present guidance helps put the pieces back together. And what a bunch of wicked pieces they end up being. Just like any scandal sheet type magazine of the time, WHERE LOVE HAS GONE is pulp fiction at its best. With its addictive plot and narratively swinging point of views, this "fictional" delivery by the man who once has been hailed as a master storyteller is one interesting read that surely will please fans of soap operas, and that, despite the toned-down sex scenes.
I have to say that next to THE LONELY LADY, WHERE LOVE HAS GONE is my fave Robbins novel. There is everything in that one: love, murder, sex, and the many sinful doings of a delinquent teen. And Robbins’ turn of phrases doesn’t suck either. It’s a little more polished than what we came to know later on. Of course if you’re looking for Proust you’ve come to the wrong novel or blog for that matter. There is a film adaptation starring Susan Hayworth and Bette Davis that will definitely be featured on this blog. Just give me time to re-re-watch it and I promise to add my two cents. In the meantime grab yourself a copy of WHERE LOVE HAS GONE and dig into the sleaziness of it all.
Until next post—Martin