SICK CITY by Tony O’Neill [Review]

The first thing that caught my eye about the latest Tony O’Neill novel, Sick City, was a quote on the cover.

“I loved the whole F**ked-up journey”-Slash

Now, you know Slash has seen some stuff. So for him to say this was a messed up book was enough to get me intrigued. Well folks, Slash was at least partially right. It is in fact a f**ked-up journey. Did I love it? I don’t think so. I mean it was a good book, but its not something I’d ever want to read again. In fact, I’d really like to have some of the contents erased entirely from my memory.

You’re probably asking yourself what this book is about. Well the plot is fairly simple. Two guys, Jeffrey and Randall meet in a LA rehab run by a celebrity substance abuse doctor named Dr. Mike. Jeffery’s sugar daddy just died and left him 2 thousand dollars and some video tapes. Now he’s looking to get clean and move on with his life. Randall comes from a very wealthy entertainment industry family and was forced into rehab by his brother to get his act together. Jeffrey and Randall join forces in rehab when Jeffrey reveals to Randall the contents of his video tapes: a sex tape confiscated from Sharon Tate’s home the night of her murder that contains a star studded orgy featuring: Steve McQueen, Mama Cass, Yul Brynner, and Sharon Tate. Yes, Mama Cass. Jeffrey wants Randall to use his connections to find a buyer for the tapes.

I live in Los Angeles and to me Sick City was like getting an education on the world that I knew existed within the creepy run down motels, strip clubs, and city buses but have never seen up close. A lot of books these days seem almost written for the sole purpose of being adapted into a screenplay, I loved that the author threw all chances of this out the window. The only way this book is getting made into a movie is if its rated XXX and goes straight to DVD. One criticism I’d give the book is in respects to the dialogue. At times the main characters came off sounding a little too generic.

So check out Sick City, but check it out at your own risk. It’s not for the faint of heart. Remember what Slash said and if you still want to read it, brace yourself for the ride!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Harper Perennial | Pages: 384 | Buy on Amazon

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  • Kristen

    Ha ha, I love your review! This sounds like a really interesting book, though I don’t think it’s for me.

  • Cyd

    Making a bit of money on the back of a dead pregnant actress? Sounds lame.

    • Diamond Geezer

      Great seeing SICK CITY get a shout out here. I just finished it and loved it, my book of the year so far. Like it enough to order ONeill’s previous book, DOWN AND OUT ON MURDER MILE… As far as it “making money off the back of a dead pregnant actress” Cy, well I guess you’ll have to check your self-righteous outrage at the door when you pick up a book entitled SICK CITY.

      That said, the whole Sharon Tate thing is a very small part of the book, it’s definitely more of a satire on the recovery industry and Hollywood, and a meth fuelled buddy-buddy type of thing than one of those Manson-fetish books that come out from time to time.

      One thing I would take issue with in the review though – I remember thinking just how cinematic it was! Goes to show you how much I know… still i think with the right director this book could definitely be turned into a gripping, tight paced movie – I was thinking something along the lines of True Romance era Tarantino. Of course, some of the scenes would have to go… especially that vile “death by dildo” scene, which I have to say really grossed me out (but made me laugh at the same time…)

  • David

    Haha great review Amie!

    This one I think I will give a miss. Although the death by dildo story Diamond Geezer mentions above does sound pretty hilarious!!