N.Y. / L.A.
The colorful, morally complex life of Matthew Fleming, an actor of rare talent, from an impoverished but work-filled decade in Off-Broadway theaters through his 'overnight' success on Broadway - then on to international acclaim as a charismatic movie star - is the 'stuff of this gripping novel.Matt is haunted by the belief his leap from obscurity to fame wasn't due to his gift alone but also to the death of a wealthy lover, Andrea Whittaker. He is convinced her drowning, considered accidental, was, in fact, a murder and that he knows the perpetrator. Yet for reasons he's long repressed, he never sought justice for the killer.A lesser anguish gnawing at Matt Fleming's emotional core is his need to express himself on stage before live audiences. To make the break from his domineering manager/partner, David Whittaker -Andrea's widowed husband - who insists he stick with movies, and Laura Fleming, his glamor-struck wife who would never leave Malibu with Harry, their young son, to return to gritty N. Y., he jumps at an offer to make an 'art' film in England. He hopes it will provide the distance he needs in order to decide how he can rid himself of real and imagined demons...The narrative begins and ends in the winter of 2000. A youthful forty, Matt is playing Prince Hal in director Kenneth Branagh's version of Shakespeare's Henry IV. A role he's always aspired to, his London experience is further buoyed by a serious, surreptitious love affair with Beth Winters, the Lady Percy of the film. But he dare not make her privy to the dilemmas which by now are causing him to have terrifying nightmares.Re-enter Charley Sutter. A retired New York Homicide detective turned insurance investigator, he first met Matt ten years before when assessing whether Andrea's death possibly could have been a suicide. Despite their brief encounters since Matt moved to L. A., a strong father-son bond developed between the two men.It is to Sutter he finally confesses his weighty secret, flying to New York for an intense weekend with him. At first shocked by Mart's charge of murder and who he intuitively believes to be the killer, bit-by-bit the sage cop buys into the actor's far-fetched notion, while remarking the odds are against ever proving the case. Sutter then raises a more daunting question: if Matt pursues his accusation and even succeeds in what must be a major public trial, won't his long, inexcusable silence mean the end of his storied career? Matt's love of his art, Beth and Harry are all at stake if he permits his conscience to dictate his next step. What judgement will prevail to take him into the third act of this compelling drama...?
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