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Hollywood, 1934. Prohibition is finally over, but there is still plenty of crime for an ambitious young private eye to investigate. Though he has a slightly checkered past, Riley Fitzhugh is well connected in the film industry and is hired by a major producer - whose lovely girlfriend has disappeared. He is also hired to recover a stolen Monet, a crime that results in two murders... with more to come. Along the way Riley investigates the gambling ships anchored off LA, gets involved with the girlfriend of the gangster running one of the ships, disposes of the body of a would-be actor who assaults Riley's girlfriend, and meets an elegant English art history professor from UCLA who helps him authenticate several paintings. Living at the Garden of Allah Hotel, Riley meets and assists many Hollywood screenwriters who frequent the hotel bar. Incidentally one of these gents, whose nom de plume is Hobey Baker, might actually be F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mike T. on 06-30-16
If Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were the true writers of hard-boiled noir detective stories, this is a soft-boiled noir light.
The heart of the story is about a Monet painting. Is it really stolen? Is it a forgery? The art angle is central, but the story also deals with the movie industry of the times (think "casting couch") and literature. A couple of murders is thrown in, but no real tension or suspense is felt. The whole book has an intellectual feel to it. Tons of literary references and quotes from Shakespeare, poets and philosophers. Looking for action and excitement? Look elsewhere.
The protagonist is an intellectual sort of gumshoe ("I read a lot") that takes the soft approach to sleuthing. No gunplay, no fighting, you get the idea. What he does is talk, a lot! He also does a lot of sleeping around with most of the women in the story. The exception is his secretary Della. His daily banter with her is great fun. Most other female characters are dealt with more or less as sex objects for the "hero".
The writing is technically good. Just not very engaging. Some chuckles here and there, but I never really got caught up in the story.
Narration is good.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Tobias on 11-05-16
Clever and entertaining
The book is well read by Tony Pasqualini and, aside from the tedious sexual conquests of the protagonists, the story is rather intriguing. Using a rather burlesque dark humour and witty dialogue rather than a clever and complex plot it is rather obvious but slowpaced and entertaining none the less.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful