A riveting 1920s Hollywood thriller about the making of the most terrifying silent film ever made, and a deadly search for the single copy rumored still to exist, from the internationally acclaimed author of The Devil Aspect.
"A masterful thriller." —Lincoln Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author "A guaranteed one-sitting read." —Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector and Hunting Time "The most sheerly entertaining novel I’ve raced through in at least a year." —A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
1927: Mary Rourke—a Hollywood studio fixer—is called urgently to the palatial home of Norma Carlton, one of the most recognizable stars in American silent film. Norma has been working on the secret film everyone is openly talking about... a terrifying horror picture called The Devil’s Playground that is rumored to have unleashed a curse on everyone involved in the production. Mary finds Norma’s cold, dead body, and she wonders for just a moment if these dark rumors could be true.
1967: Paul Conway, a journalist and self-professed film aficionado, is on the trail of a tantalizing rumor. He has heard that a single copy of The Devil’s Playground—a Holy Grail for film buffs—may exist. He knows his Hollywood history and he knows the film endured myriad tragedies and ended up lost to time.
The Devil's Playground is Craig Russell’s tour de force, a richly researched and constructed thriller that weaves through the Golden Age of Hollywood and reveals a blossoming industry built on secrets, invented identities, and a desperate pursuit of image. As Mary Rourke charges headlong through the egos, distractions, and traps that threaten to take her down with the doomed production, she discovers a truth far more sinister than she—or we—could have imagined.
About the Author
CRAIG RUSSELL is an award-winning Scottish author whose books have been translated into twenty-five languages. His previous works include The Devil Aspect, the Fabel series of thrillers and the Lennox series of noir mysteries. He is the only two-time winner of the McIlvanney Prize (2015 and 2021) as well as the winner of the 2008 Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library prize. He lives in Perthshire, Scotland, with his wife.
"Superb! The Devil’s Playground is imagination on steroids! This breathtaking tale--set against America’s favorite backdrop, Hollywood--seamlessly blends noir, gothic, and mystery in a way that's unique to crime fiction. Populated with a truly memorable cast, Playground is a guaranteed one-sitting read…and how can you resist a novel about the scariest movie of all time? Bravo!" —Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector and Hunting Time
"Craig Russell walks a razor's edge between gothic suspense and horror. The Devil's Playground conjures rich and riveting elements – 1920's Hollywood, a terrifying silent film, an elusive and inscrutable killer, and an eerie sequence set in the Louisiana bayou – all of which come together to create a masterful thriller." —Lincoln Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"A blend of murder, noir, and horror set against a fascinating time-trip through Hollywood. The Devil’s Playground is totally engaging." —Kathy Reichs, author of the Temperance Brennan series
"I’ll read anything Craig Russell writes. Indeed I’ve read everything he’s written. His are secret-ingredient thrillers: robustly mainstream novels – readers of Preston & Child, Dean Koontz, and Steve Berry, form an orderly line – charged with a special dark energy, like some elusive taste in a spiked cocktail. It’s addictive. The Devil’s Playground, set partly in a richly evoked 1920s Hollywood, plays like Chinatown meets The Ring, and it’s the most sheerly entertaining novel I’ve raced through in at least a year. In an age when far too many same-old-same-old books are clogging the charts, The Devil’s Playground – fresh, forceful, elegant but wild – deserves to crash the bestseller party." —A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
“Extensively researched… A large cast of characters and extensive use of red herrings make this a complex and atmospheric novel, perfect for fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia.” —Library Journal
"There’s witchcraft and Voodoo, gunplay, arson, and premature burial...nothing is what it seems to be amid the artifice of Hollywood.... Intriguing and entertaining." —Kirkus Reviews