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Taking Hollywood

Shari King


In front of a galaxy of stars, three young film makers accept their Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Davie Johnston, Zander Leith and Mirren McLean, childhood friends from a rough housing estate in Glasgow, have taken Hollywood by storm.


But only they know what they did to get there . . .



Twenty years later, Davie Johnston is the top host and reality show producer in town. Mirren McLean is a respected writer and movie director, and Zander Leith is box office gold. But they haven't spoken to each other in twenty years, their relationships devastated by one horrific secret.


Thousands of miles away, in a town where nothing is as it seems, a young ambitious journalist discovers a tantalizing story from the past. Tinsel Town beckons. She is determined to expose the kind of scandalous drama that usually only happens in the movies. 

Taking Hollywood is not a crime novel, at least, not by my definition. You might disagree. It’s not a whodunit, a whydunit or a howdunit, more a what did they do? But under the thriller banner it just about qualifies for review here on account of the many thrills it delivers. It is ‘in your face’ entertainment. The kind of book Jackie Collins might have written if she’d been brought up on a council estate in Glasgow.


Combine the superficial celebrity obsessed Hollywood culture with the rough and ready realism of Glasgow and you conjure up a conflict that lends itself to drama. Hollywood is scandal and gossip, and yet the perfect place to hide in plain sight as screen images are easily blurred with the truth and pasts are often kept secret. And that’s what Glasgow trio Zander Leith, Mirren McLean and Davie Johnston are reliant upon as they share a secret that, if uncovered, could ruin their Hollywood dream. The three Scots haven’t gotten to the top of their different trees without knowing how to use the media but this comes at a cost, just who do their lives belongs to?


Back in Scotland, a young journalist is on a road to revealing this secret. The mystery is twofold. What did the trio do that was so bad, and how did they wind up being massive Hollywood stars?


Along the way to discovering the answers we follow the wild antics of LA’s celebrity circuit. The rehab, the drugs, the sex, the ruthless backstabbing, all have a ring of truth and real stars are name dropped all over the place. This is fiction but written with insiders’ knowledge in a kind of ‘you couldn’t make it up’ authenticity.


The description of Scotland is also a credible one as you expect from this writing team. And the Glasgow crime element with its role of family worked well.


There’s fear, desperation and self-destruction amid the glamour. This dark, gritty element is present throughout. As is the sex, the seedy unromantic kind, described, like much of the action, in a punchy and witty manner.


The Scottish trio, like the readers of Taking Hollywood, find themselves on a rollercoaster ride that they can’t get off in this big and always entertaining read with enough twists and action to keep the pages racing. The mystery is maintained until the reveal near the end.  


Sharply written escapism. A crime novel, maybe not, but you’ll enjoy it. Look out for more escapades in the series. 


About Shari King:

When a budding radio DJ, and actor, met a young nightclub manager in Glasgow in the 1980s, little did they know that over twenty-five years and thousands of miles later they would still be friends.

Los Angeles-based Ross King is a four-time News Emmy award-winning TV and radio host, actor, producer, writer and performer. King has starred in London's West End, appeared in over ten movies and hosted TV shows in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. He has also presented countless radio shows and has his own Sunday newspaper column.

UK-based Shari Low has published thirteen novels, including those penned under her pseudonyms, Ronni Cooper and Millie Conway. She is the writer of a newspaper column renowned for its biting humour and straight-talking opinions. Shari has written for television and is a regular radio contributor.

Taking Hollywood, an edgy thriller that exposes the dark heart of Hollywood, is Shari and Ross's first novel together.

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