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The Actor's Guide To Murder Hardcover – November 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758204957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758204950
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,807,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A struggling '80s child actor on the brink of a career revival, Jarrod Jarvis shelves his audition schedule to solve the murder of a good friend in screenwriter Copp's pumped-up, promising debut. When a psychic delivers a "death card" premonition, Jarvis is only mildly perturbed until he discovers childhood friend Willard Hornsby face-down in his lap pool. The "obsessed conspiracy theorist" in Jarrod takes over and he's convinced of foul play. The "Sherlock Holmes of West Hollywood" picks up lots of clues during a secret search of Willard's home, but becomes the newest darling of the tabloids when he gets himself arrested. He's also in hot water with his police officer boyfriend, Charlie, who wants Jarrod to drop the private-dick act. More clues lead to a deadly tattooed hustler and to Willard's mother, Tamara, whose companionship with hunky, 20-something Spiro raises more than eyebrows. Both the public disclosure of Willard's HIV status and the murder of his therapist pile on even more suspects. Another psychic vision leads to a showdown in Palm Springs and a surprise network sitcom gig for Jarrod. Though Copp stays well within standard gay-fluff boundaries, the story has considerable zest and enough spritely humor to keep readers glued and giggling.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Just as much fun as your favorite sit-com. I wish I could visit with Jarrod and friends every week."

More About the Author

Rick Copp was two years out of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts when he was tapped at 24 years old to become a staff writer on the enormously popular NBC sitcom The Golden Girls in 1988. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially for a boy from Bar Harbor, Maine, who grew up dreaming of living underneath the famous Hollywood sign, a dream that became a reality soon after his arrival in Los Angeles.

He spent the next five years writing for a number of series including the critically acclaimed and commercially successsful hits NBC's Wings, FOX's Flying Blind and HBO's Dream On.

In 1995, he teamed up with screenwriter Laurice Elehwany, who wrote the popular MaCauley Culkin comedy drama My Girl and together they co-wrote the big screen TV remake The Brady Bunch Movie, which was a major box office hit for Paramount Pictures. This led to many more feature writing assignments for Universal, Warner Brothers, Imagine Entertainment, The Jim Henson Company among others as well as uncredited rewrites on Howard Stern's Private Parts and The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas.

But Rick has also stayed very busy in television co-creating and executive producing a campy, fun TV revival of the '80s David Hasselhoff hit Team Knight Rider where he also played the recurring role of Clayton the Chef. He's written for a wide variety of series including Secret Agent Man, Barbershop, executive produced by Ice Cube, and Jack of All Trades starring Bruce Campbell. He's created and written many television pilots for most of the major networks including ABC, CBS, MTV, Lifetime, USA, Nickoleon and Logo including two produced one hour prime time mystery pilots Homewood P.I. for CBS starring Tony Danza and Soccer Moms for ABC starring Kristin Davis. Recently he's written five episodes of the late night Cinemax anthology crime series Femme Fatales under the pen name Richard Hollis, which also provided him the opportunity to return to acting playing a befuddled professor in three episodes. Acting is a hobby Rick still loves to indulge.

Rick has always kept a strong presence in children's television programming as well, which began with him co-writing the popular animated feature Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost. Its success led to him writing multiple episodes of the Cartoon Network smash hit Teen Titans as well as story editing the first season of Warner Brothers' Loonatics Unleashed. His passion in life is traveling so it was a special treat for him to work abroad on another successful animated series called Chi Rho -The Secret produced by Cross Media and broadcast by KiKa in Germany.

In 2001, Rick decided to fulfill another goal and write a mystery novel. He had been playing around with a character named Jarrod Jarvis, a former child star on a hit '80s sitcom called Go to Your Room! who had his very own catch phrase, "Baby, don't even go there!" Jarrod's unbridled curiosity led him to investigate a series of sordid Hollywood murder mysteries in between acting audtions. The first book The Actor's Guide to Murder (Kensington, Nov 2003) was very well received and was followed by two sequels The Actor's Guide to Adultery (Kensington, Nov 2004) and The Actor's Guide to Greed (Kensington, Nov 2005), which was nominated for a LAMBDA Literary Award for Best Mystery. He wrote a stand alone book called Fingerprints & Facelifts (Kensington, July 2007), an homage to his favorite TV series as a child, Charlie's Angels. A crack team of female private investigators known as the LA Dolls, who had a very successful detective business in the late '80s were long retired and living separate lives, but were forced to reunite when someone from their past began targeting their children. Lifetime Television optioned the book for a TV movie and hired Rick to adapt his own novel as a teleplay.

Another childhood obsession of Rick's was collecting comic books and he was able to realize yet another dream by writing a graphic novel Celebrity Zombie Killers (Ape Entertainment, March 2010), best described as "a twisted, hilarious mash-up of MTV's The Hills meets 28 Days Later."

In 2010, when Rick's sister won an award for her cooking column in their hometown's local paper, he saw an opportunity. He writes mysteries. She writes recipes. Combine the two for a new book series. And the Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails Mystery series was born. The brother and sister writing team are collaborating on three books under the pen name Lee Hollis, Death of a Kitchen Diva (Kensington, March 2012), Death of a Country Fried Redneck (Kensington, November 2012) and Death of a Coupon Clipper (Kensington, 2013).

Customer Reviews

Well written, breezy, with memorable characters and a terrific sense of humor.
C. Hodges
Best of all, it will keep you guessing until the end, there are some great plot twists in 'Murder'.
Matthew Manuel
This type of thing is done much better in other books, and why not read those instead?

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Judith Lindenau on August 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
That's it! As I read through this in an afternoon, that's what I was thinking: this mystery reminds me of every sitcom I knew and loved, and some I didn't. It's funny, but it plays for the quick guffaw, not the introspective chuckle. And sometimes it plays for the slip-on-banana-peel howl. It's an amusement of the shallow variety--good entertainment without much involvement. And if that's your mood--it's good at what it does. And there are no commercials.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Hodges on January 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When 1980s teen icon Jarrod Jarvis is caught kissing another boy at the L.A. Gay Rodeo, "his star fades faster than a Kathie Lee Gifford CD" according to the dust jacket. That blurb alone convinced me to pick up the book and check out the first chapter. Boy, am I glad, too. Finally, a gay mystery that features characters who happen to be gay. The self-deprecating humor and vicious in-jokes made me chuckle aloud--a rare feat when I read. The story itself is standard cozy mystery fare, and I identified the killer halfway through, yet, unlike with other mysteries, once I thought I had the killer pegged, I still wanted to read to see how our hero figured it out.
Well written, breezy, with memorable characters and a terrific sense of humor. Recommended for all but the homophobic right-wing uncle we all have....
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris got together with Sue Grafton and Agatha Christie, the result would probably be something very close to Rick Copp's fabulously entertaining debut novel, "The Actor's Guide To Murder".
Every once in a while a new voice in fiction comes along and spins an old genre in an exciting new direction. Copp does this brilliantly: refracting the classic mystery franchise formula through prism of smart social satire that is so effective because it's never caught trying. The mystery is full of fun twists, the characters are quirky and real, the Hollywood setting vivid. Most of all, the book is knee-slappingly funny. What more could you ask for...? (Except, perhaps, his next book!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony R. Cardno on May 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book (and its sequels) will definitely go on the "guilty pleasures" list. Here's why: these books are to the mystery genre what "Dawson's Creek" was to tv drama.

If you're looking for deep characters, meaningful plots and the kind of mystery that will stick with you long after the book is finished, these books are not for you. If you're looking for a light read, a lead character who drops more pop culture references than your average Gilmore Girl, and the kind of mystery you'd see solved in an hour on a tv show, then these books are definitely for you.

The lead character is Jarrod Jarvis, former child actor (on an 80s ABC Friday night comedy called "Go To Your Room!") best known for his catchphrase "Baby, don't go there!" Jarrod's career came to a screeching halt when he was 16 and was photographed kissing another boy at a gay rodeo. Thankfully, Jarrod's parents investing his 5 seasons worth of income well, and as an adult now he lives comfortably with his cop boyfriend Charlie in the hills outside LA.

The first book in the series, "Guide to Murder," starts the ball rolling when Jarrod discovers a fellow former child star murdered and vows to solve the crime (even though the police rule it an accidental death). From there, the pace is fast, the action is broken out like the acts of an hour-long detective show, and the pop-cult references are fast and furious.

Despite his self-absorption and penchant for dropping names, Jarrod is a very likeable character. Likeable enough that even though I thought the resolution to "Murder" came around a bit out of left field, I will still read the second book, "The Actors Guide to Adultery."

Author Rick Copp has worked as a tv writer for many years, and his credits currently include the Teen Titans cartoon among other sitcoms and action shows. His style is definitely "light and breezy."

Recommended, as I said, if you want some light reading.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Spackle on April 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
When a former child star actor is found dead in his own pool just after landing a juicy new role, the door of opportunity is wide open: campy fun? noir crime novel? wide-ranging Hollywood satire? Yet Actor's Guide, written by TV script author Copp, remains bland and distant. This type of thing is done much better in other books, and why not read those instead?

Where the plot should be carried by dialogue, such as in Robert Parker's much sparer and funnier Spenser mysteries, it is instead burdened by exposition and remarkably similar characters. In Actor's Guide, child star, cop, and billionairess are all cut from the same bland prime time-TV mold. Even the main plot line of murder is artificial and pointless, similar to a typical sitcom plot.

Readers looking for serious gay crime fiction should search out the late Joseph Hansen's David Brandstetter mysteries (e.g., Fadeout), John Morgan Wilson's Benjamin Justice series, or Michael Nava's work.

Campy is a lot campier if you're reading Nathan Aldyne's "Slate" or "Cobalt," or Orland Outland's "Death Wore a Smart Little Outfit," or "Death Wore the Emperor's New Clothes." Campy exposes of Hollywood/LA can be found in the hilarious "Sex Toys of the Gods" and "Glamourpuss" by Christian McLaughlin.

Potential readers of those works should be warned. Romance there seems dangerous and serious, as does love. They can contain sex scenes and crime scenes more immediate, sometimes scarier, sometimes funnier than Mr. Copp's antiseptic rendering.

Actor's Guide would play well on network or cable TV, but you, gentle reader, should set your standards a touch higher.
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