Cover image for The ticket out
The ticket out
Knode, Helen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, [2003]

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 24 cm
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Ann Whitehead is sick of her job. She's a movie critic for a counterculture rag in Los Angeles and she needs a break badly. Instead of a break, she gets a murder. A woman dies in Ann's bathtub: the victim is a film school grad and Industry hopeful. It's the kind of story Ann was born to write, but the disgraced LAPD detective leading the investigation is determined to stop her. The search for the killer turns into a search for the victim's missing script, the story of another woman murdered in 1944.
Suddenly there are two killers, and a complicated conspiracy spanning
decades. Ann is smack in the middle and everyone she meets wants into the
film business--whatever the price.
There's never been a thriller hitched as brilliantly to the new underbelly of Hollywood as this one. Helen Knode is a startling and original voice.

Author Notes

Helen Knode put her experiences as a staff writer and film critic for the L.A. Weekly into her first novel, The Ticket Out . She was born in Calgary, Alberta, heart of the Canadian oil business, and Knodes have worked in oil since the nineteenth century, a history that inspired Wildcat Play . She lives in Austin, Texas.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The wife of author James Ellroy and a former film critic for the L.A. Weekly, first-novelist Knode explores the tensions in the film industry through protagonist Ann Whitehead, film critic for the hipster rag L.A. Millennium. Painfully bored with watching yet another movie made to showcase "plastic corporate dolls" like Tom Cruise, Ann is primed for a big change. The morning after a party, Ann discovers aspiring moviemaker Greta Stenholm in the bathtub, dead from knife wounds. Even though the knife used to kill Greta belongs to her, Ann's primary concern is using the story as her ticket out of the movie-reviewing business and into feature writing. Even as she patiently answers taciturn Detective Doug Lockwood's questions about the murder scene, she's busily hiding evidence. Her investigation leads her to a complex of bungalows inhabited by faded beauties once the mistresses of powerful studio moguls. Her increasingly intimate relationship with the complicated Lockwood is the high point in this very entertaining novel with a busy plot and attitude to spare. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Film critic Ann Whitehead has a problem. She doesn't find Tom Cruise sexy. She's bored by Harry Potter. She even can't get excited about the new David Lynch movie. The heroine of Knode's debut crime novel is simply fed up with her job and the Los Angeles alternative weekly paper where she works. But there's no quicker cure for ennui than finding a gorgeous blonde corpse in your bathtub. Ann stumbles on the murdered body of film school grad Greta Maria Stenholm in the bathroom of her pool house (where she lives in exchange for minor caretaking of the mansion next door) and becomes obsessed with the case. Though she's stymied in her investigation by Lockwood, a sexy LAPD detective with a shady past, she discovers a second case of murder, blackmail and coverup. This one is from 1944, and it's the subject of a script that Greta had been working on when she died. Knode, an ex-film critic for the L.A. Weekly, juxtaposes Hollywood's golden age and today's entertainment industry, exploring how the city has used and abused the ambitious, beautiful women who flock there. She offers a juicy portrait of contemporary L.A. in which Hollywood's elite kill one another for script ideas and follow secret passages from MGM to a high-end whorehouse. Some of these images feel overly familiar; this is a novel in which the HUAC committee lists resurface and still have currency. Still, Knode's clever, sophisticated plotting packs a punch. L.A. noir fans-and Hollywood buffs-will be rapt. (Jan.) Forecast: Knode's husband is James Ellroy, which won't hurt in the publicity department. An eight-city author tour and a strong ad campaign will also grab attention for this promising debut. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ann Whitehead is a burned-out movie critic for a small counterculture newspaper and, like many others in Hollywood, a screenwriter wannabe. She lives in the pool house of a famous old manse and keeps an eye on the place for its consortium of owners. When she discovers the body of an aspiring writer in her bathtub the morning after a big party, Ann begs her boss for a chance to chase a real crime story. He reluctantly agrees, but the detective in charge, singed in a recent scandal, is not thrilled at having the press dogging him. Ann takes off like Nancy Drew, and her search for the killer turns into a search for the victim's missing script about the unsolved murder of a 1944 starlet. Suddenly, there are two murders to solve and a host of movie moguls scrambling to cover their questionable pasts. A former columnist and movie critic for L.A. Weekly and the wife of author James Ellroy, Knode features lots of intriguing backlot history and tales of Hollywood's first generation of the rich and famous linked with those of the present generation who would kill for just one more break. This well-done debut is recommended for most popular fiction collections.-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



CHAPTERONETHE MOVIE lost me way early on. I sighed, uncrossed my legs, and stuck them in the aisle. Mark poked me. He whispered, "Stop it. Sit still."I said, "If this tuna doesn't end soon, I'm going to shoot myself."Mark patted my arm. I pictured the gun I kept in a closet at home, and laughed out loud.Someone said, "Sssh!" Two people in the row ahead of us turned around.I bit my lip and slumped down lower. The theater was packed with journalists. A new Tom Cruise movie was always an event, and the studio had put us in their largest screening room. I picked the major critics out of the crowd and tried to guess what they were thinking. Their faces were blank, of course: their jobs were too political for them to let their real feelings show. But I could guess what the feature writers were thinking. They were worried how much time they'd have with Cruise and how much space they'd get after the photo spread. They had no choice about the movie; they had to be nice. Sometimes I envied them.I sighed again. Mark reached over and tapped my notebook with his pen. He whispered, "Write.""Can't I please go?"Mark pointed at my notebook. I flipped to a new page and looked up at the screen. Tom Cruise was kissing Penelope Cruz on a background of dark bedsheets. He dabbed at her mouth while the camera and music tried to make it sexy.I stopped myself from laughing again. I'd never bought Cruise as a romantic hero. The film could be set in the nineteenth century or cyberspace; it didn't matter. He was a plastic corporate doll. He made love like a guy who'd answer to CEOs if he mixed his bodily fluid with the costar's.I shut my notebook and started to get up. Mark looked over. I whispered, "I'll be right back."He nodded and I walked up the aisle to the lobby. Out in the light I checked the press kit for a running time. The movie still had an hour left. I found an upholstered bench, lay down, and closed my eyes. There was the rest of this screening, then Barry's party tonight. I didn't want to go to his useless party. I wanted to be alone to think.Something was very wrong with me. I'd been acting unprofessional and I couldn't figure out why. Over the past month I'd missed a deadline and refused to write about the fall season. I just couldn't get enthusiastic about Harry Potter-or even a new David Lynch film. It wasn't normal. The summer movies were bad, but low morale was no excuse. There'd been bad periods before and I didn't miss deadlines or fight Mark's assignments. No one had said anything at the paper yet. But there were hints that I might be in trouble.If I was in trouble, I knew Mark would take my side. I didn't know, though, if Mark could protect me from our boss. Barry's attitude about Hollywood had changed. He'd softened up toward the studios and started to interfere in the film section; he said he wanted our coverage to be more "mainstream." Mark and I were having a hard time believing it. On every other topic, the L.A. Millen Excerpted from The Ticket Out by Helen Knode All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.