Last Night at the Viper Room is the story of the short life of River Phoenix who died at Johnny Depp’s nightclub when he was just 23. Gavin Edwards relies heavily on previously published information and a few interviews with people who knew River. Although the information is not entirely new, the timeline of River’s life is laid out in such a way that his trajectory of fame and spiral into drugs becomes understandable. Distractingly though, Edwards also feels the need to place River’s life in the context of what else was going on with young Hollywood at the time. There are frequent references to Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, the Butthole Surfers, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers amongst others. While it makes sense to include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who River was friends with (although Edwards annoyingly only refers to the person who gave River the drugs that caused his death as “the rock guitarist”), the others have little reason to be written about in a biography of River Phoenix’s life.
Review copy provided by the publisher, It Books.