Sizzling Cold Case is a Barnaby Jones murder mystery written by Buddy Ebsen, who portrayed L.A. sleuth Barnaby Jones in the long-running TV series of the same name. Beautiful starlet Lori London died suddenly some 18 years ago. Though her death was ruled a suicide, neither Barnaby nor Hollywood believed that was the end of the story, and Barnaby would not let the cold case stay closed. When another rising star (a dead ringer for Lori) is cast in the movie version of London's demise with a new, "surprise" ending, on-set accidents, death threats, and burned film canisters make it clear someone doesn't want the truth to be told. In his search for clues, Barnaby discovers a connection between the murderer of Lori London and the man who murdered his own son in cold blood, and must confront his son's killer once more. The story comes to a thrilling conclusion at the Hollywood premiere of The True Story Behind the Legend of Lori London.
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Barnaby Jones Audible Is Great, Viable Nostalgia
Why I picked the audiobook format for the Barnaby Jones novel was because I already spend all my work life reading, or at a computer screen, writing on either legal pads or computer. “Sizzling Cold Case” was the one Buddy Ebsen book I had not yet owned or read, so learning it was newly available on Audible.com made my day. But, the only thing I knew about the book going in was that it was a Barnaby Jones novel, Buddy’s vision of the next case Barnaby would be working on, which was in fact a cold case. If you loved the TV show, this is a terrific opportunity where nostalgia and a good, solid mystery intersect. If you like Buddy Ebsen, you have to hear this book....or read it, whichever is most convenient for you.
The case central to this story is actually one that was the final case detective Hal Jones was working on before he was killed. Barnaby Jones came out of retirement, if viewers/readers recall, in the TV show when Hal was killed, to resume his forensic sleuthing. So, this case, too, finds Barnaby being pulled from retirement back into the fray yet again. It was poignant, not contrived, and very sweet that Buddy Ebsen was willing to write his second-most famous TV character back into action one last time.
The book is really 90% Barnaby's voice so unquestionably it was Barnaby Jones' character. Buddy Ebsen portrayed the character on TV for eight seasons and 179 episodes. Far, far beyond a nice gentleman who preferred a glass of cold milk to 'adult beverages,' Barnaby was a detective who could stand with Colombo, Mannix, and the Mission Impossible Team and be believable. Fortier's strength was doing Barnaby's voice. While listening, it was so easy to visualize the old television show “Barnaby Jones” episodes I used to watch that I thought I was right back in the 1970s waiting for the familiar theme by Jerry Goldsmith to come on and open the CBS weekly program. Pretty tough challenge for a 2017 listen, but I wasn't disappointed.
From the very opening chapter (there are 66 of them) in the book, you’re pulled back into Barnaby’s reminiscence of how his son, Hal, had been murdered, and now a thread from the past introduced a connection to understanding what really happened in what would be Hal’s last case that he was working on before his death.
The reopening of the Lori London case began immediately.Hearing the scene describing a location familiar to everyone who lives in or has toured Los Angeles…the iconic Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. It is there where Barnaby surveils someone putting a single rose on the star of the late actress Lori London, whose life story is central to the theme of the book and whose passing was previously considered a suicide, when Barnaby’s late son, Hal, didn’t believe that for a minute. Barnaby takes up where Hal left off, even though it had been a few years since he’d been active.
Also, watching this event from a different purview is a newly christened detective, Craig Scott, and then the story takes off. A red Ferrari driven by a gentleman who placed a red rose on the sidewalk, stood silently for a moment, and as fast as that car drives away, you’re whisked away on quite the adventure.
Cold cases are always the most interesting of mysteries for any reader to unravel, because you must learn the predicate of the case, then you think through along with the detective about current events and wonder how to deconstruct the case to ultimately find a correct logical solution to the crime that was mis-solved and remained unsolved all this time. This time, there is closure for Hal's death in that his last case is finally resolved and solved, giving the reader closure.
On April 2, 2017, when I actually wrote this review first for my blog, it seems appropriate that the review of the audio version of “Sizzling Cold Case” fell on the birthday of the primary author, Buddy Ebsen (born April 2, 1908 in Belleville, Illinois). Most Baby Boomer fans of the legendary entertainer know and revere Ebsen as an accomplished actor in television and movies and some will recall him all the way back to his days as a vaudeville showman. Add in his movie career in early musicals and westerns as well as stage actor among his multifaceted talents. But that’s not all.
Buddy was also an award-winning sailor, designer of catamarans, winner of competitive racing, author, singer, songwriter and painter, who first made his mark in entertainment as a dancer. Collectively, that should qualify for classification of Ebsen as a Renaissance man. So, before I listened to the book I reflected on what I might hope to hear the story be. Any fan of classic television has at the ready a complete list of their favorite shows, their favorite stars and their favorite episodes.
They can readily recall “the one when…” and give great and glorious detail down to the episode director, plus name the weekly TV sponsors. “Barnaby Jones” was one of those shows. Unquestionably, this book, especially a narrated mystery, produced exactly the result I was hoping for...a nice trip down memory lane with an old friend (Barnaby) solving one more case, one that had a strong connection to ones i'd enjoyed via the TV show. That, and it was Buddy's final book, completed by author and longtime family friend, Darlene Quinn, made it like a chance to see one final episode of the series, and have closure, just like The Gilmore Girls "Year in the Life" had 'finished the story' for that show.
Barnaby Jones was, and remains, a thinking person’s detective, armed with an equal dose of charm, sage pondering, and reflective questioning before settling on an answer, and a perpetrator. It’s great television of yesteryear and fulfilling reading/listening present day. Get the book, in whatever format you want it. Case closed.
- Dawn Lee Wakefield
Reminiscent Listen with Sound Effects