In 1971 a ramshackle bus with driver and courier takes a small party of tourists on an excursion, viewing the homes of brilliant Hollywood stars. That is, except for one overgrown to invisibility which was once the property of Elizabeth and her English husband Frank Nayland: Hollywood’s most dazzling, universally adored couple whose glory was extinguished in one night of unparalleled horror. One of the tourists suggests they have a look round, although it has been deserted for forty years. The speaker is an elderly man who can remember that greatest of Hollywood scandals.
By 1930 the talkies had overtaken the silent cinema. Gorgeous Elizabeth has two problems: her scarcely intelligible East European accent, and the 44 years now showing in her once seemingly indestructible beauty. Speech can be corrected, but youth is lost for ever. Unless: a small but bloody accident calls to mind the legend of her native country, where Countess Dracula bathed in virginal blood. Elizabeth and her hapless husband Frank embark on a devilish career almost beyond belief. Wildly successful, it culminates in the Hollywood party of a lifetime descending into madness. In 1971, the tourists have blithely followed their ancient guide into this accursed place.
The writer has a vigorous prose style which keeps a reader in his clutches. It is a curiously old fashioned morality tale in that the protagonists never know delight in their frenzied pursuits. Readers, it is to be hoped, are unlikely to be seduced by envy into following their sensuality and greed.