Thursday, 21 March 2019


When Joan Collins decided to put out this fiction number in the late ‘80s I remember thinking, oh here we go, another actress who thinks she can write, forgetting that she had already proven her skills with a few highly successful autobiographies a decade or so earlier. Furthermore, to me, moving into her sister’s established turf seemed, well, very shady. Remember, I had been (and still am) a die-hard Jackie Collins fan and I just couldn’t see anyone else doing it just as well, even if it’s her wildly successful sibling. But curiosity won me over and I just had to take at least a peek. Turns out I did more than that, finishing the novel in a record time. Now, was this title just as good as a Jackie Collins novel? Read on.

The thing about PRIME TIME (Pocket) is that you have to avoid comparing it to any other work to truly enjoy it, and I did enjoy it, make no mistake about that. It may not be the sharpest book to come out but, boy, it sure is one of the sleaziest. And I say that with all the genuine love I have for this type of efforts, because what we have here is a fun, no holds bar romp of the rich and the rotten that highly deserves the accolades from seekers of trash fiction. It sorts of remind me of THE DEBUTANTES by June Flaum Singer which reached the top of the best-seller list in 1982 despite being considered unreadable by many insiders. Both narratives have little substance but a whole lot of scandals to compensate.

In a nutshell PRIME TIME centers around five women who vow for a spot on a top-rated TV series à la Dynasty. There are many secrets and sins already attached to their names and half the fun is trying to figure out who will eventually overcome them to win the coveted part as, what else, the wife of a business tycoon. The other half is trying not to smirk too much at all of the silliness of the bed-hopping, demoralized urgings, crazy antics that fill the pages of this juicy best-seller.

Not once did I find the book boring and say what you want, Joan Collins is a great storyteller. She may not have the opus operandi of say, her dear departed sister, but boy does she know how to make a scene sparkle. The last time I uttered those exact words were in reference to Jacqueline Susann’s body of work. Not too shabby a compliment, if I may say so myself. 

Collins has written many other novels since PRIME TIME. All have been international best-sellers. If you want a go at them you can easily use a Kindle or a Kobo. As for I, I will stick with my physical paperbacks and hardbacks ‘cause, hey, that’s the kind of crazy dude that I am. 

Until next post—Martin

Tuesday, 5 March 2019


If you ever want to experience Harold Robbins the writer—and not the redundant storyteller he later became—start with his debut novel NEVER LOVE A STRANGER. This one’s a sure bet. His best even. Some may argue otherwise, preferring THE CARPETBAGGERS or A STONE FOR DANNY FISHER, but I still believe he gave all he’s got for NEVER LOVE A STRANGER. Mind you, he did hit home runs with his early subsequent novels but in my heart of hearts nothing can beat this reviewed title. Whether it’s in his strong narrative, likable protagonist, fine storytelling, or sexual situations—which, BTW, is a lot tamer on account of the novel being published in 1948—there is something important going on in between those pages, and I’m not talking about Robbins’ fresh gutter mind. No, what I’m getting at is that Robbins is actually a talented bloke if you scratch beneath surface, and in insight NEVER LOVE A STRANGER is the perfect example of that.

The plot, told mostly in first-person flashbacks in a span of over twenty years, is all about Frankie Kane who, we come to learn early on, is an orphan who knows his way around. He’s what you call street smart, a thing I always wish I could have been, but this isn’t about moi so let’s just move on. After numerous dangerous situations that would be too long for me to describe Kane eventually becomes one of the biggest mobsters of his time—but at what price? From rotten deals to violent confrontations of all sorts, Kane manages to find himself and eventually becomes the person he’s meant to be. Nothing new, I admit, but handled with care, and, dare I say it, class. Yes, Robbins takes out his Sunday clothes for this one, delivering a riveting tale of a hoodlum whose ups and downs make for a fine character study. And of course, this character deserves everything that comes to him because, as you all know, without his despair there wouldn’t be a novel such as this one. In return, the reader can’t help getting caught up into the swirl of things and before he knows it the end is near and a few chapters more would have been more than welcome. Yes, this is the kind of a novel NEVER LOVE A STRANGER is.  

Mind you, one has to be ready for Robbins’ wicked ways. His world is far from being apple pie. Every female character is used as an excuse to heighten the importance of the male counterpart—when she is not caught solely in the sheets. And of course those women are always fully stacked. I’m sure the Me Too movement would have had a field day with these publications had it ever existed back in the day. But if you’re ready to overlook this tiny little flaw (if you can call using women a tiny little flaw), then I’m positive you’ll find this novel as compelling as anything Robbins has ever written. 

There’s a 1958 B&W movie adaptation starring John Drew Barrymore (son of stage and screen legend John Barrymore and Drew’s dad) and Steve McQueen (in his first film). I own it on VHS. I shall review it one of these days. Until then, I’d suggest that you get busy with NEVER LOVE A STRANGER. If you’re like me, you’ll find the rewards worth your while. At least I hope you will.

You can still get NEVER LOVE A STRANGER wherever digital books are sold.

Until next post—Martin