Victor England, the great film director, returns to Hollywood to finalise arrangements for his next production. Everything seems propitious: he has a firm contract with a studio that owes him a substantial debt of gratitude and whose top executives are top friends of his. Why, then, is he left to languish in the grand hotel owned by Verdugo, which in Spanish means executioner? What is the relationship between Victor, who can write equally well with left hand or right, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, about whom he once made a film, a film which is showing on TV as he enters his suite? Who is the beautiful girl whom he sees in the lobby, and is she the same girl who is later found dead under sinister circumstances? Is Victor England a victim or a killer?
There have been many novels about Hollywood. There has never been one like this. Frederic Raphael's vision of California Time is of a 'sequence of presents', and his innovations in the form of the novel serve only to add to the multi-faceted strangeness of the 'celluloid capital'. Victor England, young and old at the same time, is a man of many wives and many films, rich and yet dependent on the bounty of a failing industry, whose golden slave he is.