How many lives does Jack have to blow before getting it right? And is sleeping with Marilyn Monroe worth getting murdered again?
When Jack Cade is fired from a no-pay stage production of Hamlet in 1996, he has no inkling his next role will be opposite Marilyn Monroe – in 1956. As a down-and-out forty-year-old actor, Jack’s luck – and life – change when he’s sent an anonymous note with a pawn ticket for an alexandrite ring. After his beloved wife leaves him, a mysterious woman asks him to meet her at an old house deep in the San Fernando Valley. With nothing to lose, Jack decides to go. Once he steps through her door, he enters a world of beguiling physics and plain old magic to travel through time. Through a glitzy and dark whirlwind of events, Jack meets Marilyn, gets killed (more than once), and emerges with the alexandrite, a famed stone that lies surprisingly at the heart of Jack’s life.
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Time-travel Noir becomes High Art with a wicked sense of humor in this fast-paced novel that offers up alternate views of Hollywood’s past and present.
Washed-out and with the doors of opportunity slamming shut on all sides, actor Jack Cade is the poster boy for the “bad things happen in threes” mantra. Getting cut from a crappy, no-pay play was just the tip of his career-crushing iceberg. His agent, who lost faith in Jack way back in another epoch, manages to dig up a temporary life preserver – an audition for a part that has Jack written all over it. An audition he misses. And Jack’s wife, no longer able to stay afloat in his sinkhole of alcohol and “bleeding actor’s ego,” jumps ship.
Just when it starts looking like it’s lights-out for Jack, an anonymous envelope lands in his mailbox. Inside is a pawn ticket that leads him to an Alexandrite ring and a psycho-physicist who claims to hold the secret of time travel. With Jack’s personal and professional lives collapsing in on him like a black hole, he walks out of 1996 and into the heyday of mid-Century Hollywood. He also walks into another man’s shoes, not to mention the scene of his recurring nightmare. Armed with “fore-knowledge” Jack has a chance to make things right in two different time periods. The only question is, how many times will he have to jump across the spectrum of an alternate reality to get it right?
Drawing from his extensive experience in the entertainment industry, author Rick Lenz delivers a stellar and believable cast of characters. From Jack Cade, whose love-hate relationship with the movie industry keeps him on the razor’s edge of failure, to Jack’s 1956 incarnation – or possibly alter-ego – Richard Blake, a movie-star handsome gemologist, whose an angry alcoholic wife and sultry, mentally impaired sister-in-law set the stage for their own rendition of a sweaty Tennessee Williams play. And there’s the incomparably complex, multi-faceted Marilyn Monroe, at the peak of her career—the golden thread that weaves everyone’s story together.
Steeped in Hollywood history and culture, The Alexandrite entices the reader with snippets of iconic set locations, facades, meeting places, studios, and stars. But the novel is more than a torch song to the movie industry. It is also a paean to hard-working actors whose careers, like Jack’s, straddle a razor.
Somerset Grand Prize award winner for Literary and Contemporary Fiction along with multiple other literary awards, The Alexandrite by Rick Lenz playfully challenges the reader to ask questions about a world that exists outside of the four dimensions in which we live. A must-read for anyone and everyone who has been touched by the magic of Hollywood.
– Chanticleer Book Reviews
“Along the way, this fascinating look at the underbelly of Hollywood offers an intriguing glimpse into Monroe’s tragic life and death. Like Monroe, the novel is impressively complex. Lenz—himself a veteran actor—cunningly blends time travel, LA noir, Hollywood glitz and self-discovery, making for a uniquely appealing read. A stellar story illuminated by a star’s light and a man’s search for himself.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“It’s just about impossible to put down.”
— Bret Easton Ellis, New York Times best selling author
“Rich, thought-provoking…A terrific page-turner….”
— US Review of Books
“Compelling… Fascinating…Shades of Groundhog Day and It’s a Wonderful Life.”
— Forward Reviews
“I was particularly struck by how masterfully the author captured Marilyn Monroe. It’s no easy task to capture such an iconic figure who is now so heavily and elusively cloaked in myth, but I thought Rick Lenz portrayed her so well that I wondered if he’d actually met her. I don’t know if he has or not, but I almost felt I had by reading this book. I also enjoyed the way he placed the reader in LA of the 1950’s—a time still close enough to Hollywood’s golden era that it’s still visible to the naked eye. I felt like I’d traveled back with Jack to a time I’d love to have experienced myself.”
— Martin Turnbull, author of The Garden of Allah novels