Tough Situations–THE OTTO DIGMORE DECISION–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released M/M contemporary adventure from Brent Hartinger. THE OTTO DIGMORE DECISION is a spinoff book to the Russel Middlebrook books I’ve read in the past, so I was really excited to read this one. I have really enjoyed his contemporary M/M romance series, including THE THING I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW, BAREFOOT IN THE CITY OF BROKEN DREAMS, and THE ROAD TO AMAZING. Otto and Russel are back, fulfilling their dreams–they think. It all goes a bit wonky, and we have a tough situation.

About the book:
“If we get caught, they’ll throw us in jail. On the other hand, we’ll have been involved in one of the craziest Hollywood stories I’ve ever heard, and maybe someone will want to turn that into a movie!”

Otto Digmore is back, still trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood (despite his facial scars), but frustrated by all the schemers who’ll stab you in the back to get ahead. But then Otto’s good friend Russel Middlebrook sells a screenplay, a heist movie set in the Middle Ages — and Otto has been cast in an important supporting role! For twelve weeks, Otto and Russel will be on location together in England and Malta.

Problem is, once production is underway, it quickly becomes clear that the director is ruining Russel’s script. If the movie ends up being the bomb that both Otto and Russel expect it to be, it could ruin both their Hollywood careers forever.

But Otto and Russel aren’t willing to take that chance. Together, they hatch a crazy plan to make a good movie behind the director’s back. But how far are they willing to go to save their careers? Are they willing to become exactly the kind of scheming backstabbers they always said they hated? And what if Otto and Russel disagree?

Regardless of the answer, The Otto Digmore Decision proves the old adage about creative pursuits: that the most interesting drama always happens behind the scenes!

My Review
Otto Digmore is an actor in Hollywood, and he has a strong friendship with his long-time pal, Russel Middlebrook, who is a screenwriter. Otto and Russel with summer camp boyfriends way back in the day, but Russel is married to his high school sweetheart, and Otto has a long-term boyfriend, who is also his agent. They are both stunned and elated when one of Russel’s screenplays gets picked up by a studio. Ruseel had specifically written a part of the hero with Otto in mind, because Otto has some serious facial and body scarring from a fire in his youth. It’s hard for Otto to get parts because he’s not the classically-handsome Hollywood actor–and he’s still got to audition for the part.

And, beyond his wildest dreams, Otto gets the role. It seems as if Otto and Russel are finally making their way in the tough business of movies…until filming begins. The cast is tight, really quality people who are up for the mad-cap hijinks of Russel’s Middle Ages caper script, but the directer is messing it all up. A crony given the directing job based on patronage and familial ties, Otto sees the poignant bits of his role being ditched for slap-stick and cheap laughs. It’s disheartening to the cast and crew, who have become a unit allied against the directors lack of vision.

Otto, as the underdog hero, has a hard line to walk. If his director’s vision is realized, no one will consider this film as worthy of anything, thereby torching Russel’s screenwriting career and his acting career in the process. They are too new on the scene to withstand the professional fall out, not like some of the veterans in the cast and crew. It’s risky, but they hope filming the scenes as Russel intended will give the director more to work with in the editing phase–and that’s really when the movie and be salvaged. Otto channels the cast and crew to film scenes in ways that go against the director’s superficial staging, but that’s not the end of this caper. Nope, the director can still make it a mess with poor editing–and Otto has to decide how far he is willing to go to salvage what could be the most defining performance of his career.

This is a buddy caper, not a romance, with lots of help from sympathetic parties. Otto and Russel are the best of friends, and the difference in their compensation, location housing, and treatment reveals the distinction between writers and talent in Hollywood. Likewise, the risks to Otto are greater, if things go wrong and he’s caught tanking with the director. Let’s say that the director is mainly just incompetent–not particularly malicious–but he believes his incompetent work is superior not based on the cronyism that artificially elevated him, and that false entitlement brings in more narcissistic decision-making down the road. It’s also a fun behind-the-camera peek at Hollywood’s good and bad sides. I really enjoyed spending time with Otto and Russel again, though this story is all about Otto and his professional and personal insecurities. He is distinctly human, and his weaknesses resound beyond his singular character. I really enjoyed this story, though the end felt a bit rushed. The end is, however, mostly positive, and I eagerly turned the pages to ensure Russel and Otto get their happy (platonic) ending.

Interested? You can find THE OTTO DIGMORE DECISION on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About Brent Hartinger:
I am Brent Hartinger, and I live to write.

For the last twenty years, I have made my living writing just about everything that involves words.

My most famous book is probably my 2003 gay teen novel, Geography Club, which has been adapted into a feature film starring Scott Bakula, Marin Hinkle, Ana Gasteyer, Justin Deeley, and Nikki Blonsky. It was released in selected theaters and on VOD on November 15, 2013.

You can find Brent on his website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!