The Color of Blood by M.K. Fottrell
When Miranda Lane, former Hollywood child star decides to retire from the screen in the early 1960s her mother Sybil Lane is corybantic. Sybil, a smothering, inexorable, perverse woman who began grooming Miranda for celebrity and stardom from early childhood has no intention to allow Miranda to slip away from her controlling grasp. Miranda has weathered the growing up struggles that destroy many child stars and is still a popular sought after actress. Sybil’s belief that she has sacrificed everything to further Miranda’s career clouds the tyrant mother’s thinking as she vows vengeance upon her daughter. Following Miranda’s move to New York as a start on her new life away from Sybil the now grown up young woman enjoys her new autonomy and burgeoning affection with writer Peter Brooks.
Twenty year old Miranda’s newly discovered pleasure does not last long as Sybil sets into place machinations plunging Miranda into the midst of the ethical, civic and fervent eruption of the time. Her mother’s announcement of a long hidden secret in the girl’s past soon portents to invalidate all of Miranda’s celebrity, fortune or devotion.
Miranda’s today originates in Sybil’s past which is replete with fascinating characters in Cherisse the former Vegas showgirl wife of accountant Morton Decker, a hospital orderly with the colorful name Beau Davis and an old Black entertainer Slim Parker. Sybil’s travels encompassing New York, New Hampshire, Louisiana and California provide grist for the tale.
The Color of Blood is writer Fottrell’s first work and is a commendable effort. That writer Fottrell has done her homework into the people, activities and tenor of the 1960s is evident as she presents vignettes of other young stars of the time. Miranda’s circle includes names we who lived through that era all remember including Sandra Dee, Bobby Darrin, Marilyn Monroe and Sammy Davis Jr. The Color of Blood jiggles our memory with descriptions of hairstyles, clothes, activities and the cumbersome tape recorder journalist Brooks carries along on his interviews.
Writer Fottrell’s initial offering is a well crafted tale offering the reader delightful complex characters who are most believable due in large part because they are fraught with the frailties and blemishes as beset us all. The Color of Blood pulls the reader into the narrative from the opening and doesn’t turn loose until the last page is reached in the gripping tale of conundrum, hidden intrigue, racism, excitement and the all too human condition interwoven into this tale of family, devotion and supposed glamour. The tumultuous dash taking the reader on a rush among various characters’ viewpoints, and localities and periods of time to the turbulent zenith is sure to leave the reader breathless. The twists and turns writer Fottrell offers are filled with suspense and may leave the reader a tad surprised at times, notwithstanding they are both plausible and well presented. Opprobrium, homicide, historic events are all found on the pages of this fast paced page turner in the quixotic narrative of Hollywood celebrity Miranda Lane and the apparent unstoppable force that threatens to destroy her.