ROUGH CUT by Brian Pinkerton (2011 Bad Moon Books / 366 pp / tp)
Harry Tuttle directed a few popular horror films in the 80s. Since then he has been churning out bad, low budget features, many which go direct to DVD or cable TV, barely keeping a cult following. When his ex-wife marries a hot-shot Hollywood director and begins to get famous, he becomes inspired to get back on track. The problem is, Harry finally comes to the realization that he just doesn't have it anymore. He has become a hack.
One day he screens a new film given to him by a young wanna-be director. The film, 'Deadly Desires,' blows Harry away; it's the most realistic, scary horror film he's seen in ages. He strikes a deal with the new director (Marcus Stegman) to release the film, only with himself credited as director. Marcus--badly in need of cash--eventually agrees. Sure enough, Deadly Desires becomes a huge hit, and Harry's career seems back on track, bigger and better than before.
When a popular film critic interviews Harry, he also watches a screener DVD of Deadly Desires, and becomes convinced one of the kill scenes is too real to have been faked. And when no one can get in touch with the actress who dies on film, all hell breaks loose: Harry realizes he has bought a genuine snuff film, and Marcus is currently at work on another one, this time targeting Harry's new girlfriend who also happens to be an actress.
ROUGH CUT features a well-crafted plot, tight writing, and a fantastic level of suspense. Although aimed at a horror audience, this novel will also be enjoyed by fans of thrillers and crime fiction. It's apparent Pinkerton has done his homework here: his portrayal of the ins and outs of the film business kept me as interested in the proceedings as the ever-growing tension. You won't be bored for a second.