There are not many people brave enough to say no to Irwin Dressler, Hollywood's scariest mob boss-turned-movie king. Read more...
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There are not many people brave enough to say no to Irwin Dressler, Hollywood's scariest mob boss-turned-movie king. Even though Dressler is ninety-three years old, LA burglar Junior Bender is quaking in his boots when Dressler's henchman haul him in for a meeting. Dressler wants Junior to solve a "crime" he believes was committed more than sixty years ago, when an old friend of his, once-famous starlet Dolores La Marr, had her career destroyed after compromising photos were taken of her at a Las Vegas party. Dressler wants justice for Dolores and the shining career she never had.
Junior can't help but think the whole thing is a little crazy. After all, it's been seventy years. Even if someone did set Dolores up for a fall from grace back then, they're probably long dead now. But he can't say no to Irwin Dressler (no one can, really). So he starts digging. And what he finds is that some vendettas never die--they only get more dangerous.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-04-08
- Reviewer: Staff
In Hallinan’s satisfying third Junior Bender novel (after Little Elvises), the L.A. burglar/PI continues to excavate show business’s forgotten past, investigating in this installment the also-rans of postwar Hollywood. Dolores La Marr’s ascent to movie stardom was quickly halted in 1951 when she was found at a gangland party in a police raid. Decades later, 93-year-old attorney Irwin Dressler, Southern California’s most feared powerbroker, is still infatuated with her. When Irwin asks, or rather orders, Junior to determine who set up Dolores all those years ago, the detective must comb through the short list of Dolores’s surviving acquaintances, including publicist Pinky Pinkerton, louche director Doug Trent, and arch-rival actress Olivia Dupont. Hallinan de-emphasizes the series’ dark humor and recurring characters—like Junior’s teenage daughter, Rina, and his girlfriend, Ronnie—offering instead convincing flashbacks to Dolores’s early Hollywood adventures and a sincere look at her eternally deferred Hollywood dreams. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Bob Mecoy Literary. (June)
Paths converge in the Stockholm underworld
Count on Swedish writer Jens Lapidus to drag you straight into the action from page one. Forget about introductions, a lengthy plot setup or any other such coddling. Simply git-on-board and hang on for dear life. In Never Fück Up, Niklas, who lives with his mother after a tour in Iraq, and Mahmud, who’s in deep with some Turkish mobsters, are thrown together by a violent act not of their doing. Thomas is a somewhat bent cop, padding his retirement fund with a bit of graft here, a little discretionary theft there. When a brutal murder takes place in Niklas’ apartment complex and the evidence is deliberately tampered with by police higher-ups, Thomas launches himself into a world of hurt by continuing the investigation on his own time, not realizing that he has ventured into the very sensitive arena of hush-hush global politics. It goes without saying that Niklas, Mahmud and Thomas will cross paths; the question will be which one, or ones, will survive the experience. Last year’s Easy Money was the first volume of Lapidus’ Stockholm Noir trilogy, and fans will positively champ at the bit for the final episode.
I started reading Timothy Hallinan’s books several years back and was drawn into his series featuring adventure travel writer Poke Rafferty. Read ’em all, loved ’em all, reviewed most of ’em for BookPage. So I was a bit concerned when Hallinan started a new series featuring Junior Bender, occasional burglar and full-time go-to guy for those who need a bit of private investigation that strays outside the fine lines of the law. My worries were unfounded: Hallinan is three-deep into the new series, and the books are every bit as good as their forebears—with the added attraction of some Hiaasen-esque comic tone. This time out, in The Fame Thief, Bender is summoned to the palatial home of Irwin Dressler, one-time mob boss who has gone more or less straight. It seems Dressler wants our hero to investigate a crime that dates back more than 60 years—a true iceberg of a cold case—in which the career of a promising starlet was torpedoed by malice and innuendo. But vendettas die hard, and what was once barely a blip on the Hollywood radar will come full circle in present day, a payback with usurious compound interest.
CHASING A GHOST
“Who the hell is Big Whitey?” This is the question you will ask yourself—indeed, it will be the pressing question of your life—for the first 200-some pages of Unseen, Karin Slaughter’s latest thriller featuring GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) detective Will Trent. Trent is working undercover, piloting his Harley down the mean streets of Macon, seeking out an arch-criminal known only by the nickname Big Whitey. Trouble is, despite Trent’s ongoing efforts in pressuring Macon’s lowlife population for information, he remains unable to identify the (possibly mythical) crime boss. Meanwhile, Trent’s inamorata, Dr. Sara Linton, receives some devastating news: Her stepson, motorcycle cop Jared Long, has been shot during a home invasion and is hanging onto life by the thinnest of threads. Linton will receive little comfort from Trent, as he can be in touch only sporadically, else he risks blowing his cover. What neither realizes is that their two separate situations share some points of commonality that will threaten both their relationship and their lives. Slaughter is the consummate novelist: Her characters are finely chiseled, the action is relentless and she saves a surprise or two for the final pages, guaranteed to trip up even the jaded mystery reader.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
When BookPage interviewed author David Downing last year, he said, “I’m working on what will probably be the last of the [John] Russell series, Masaryk Station. Still no idea how to end it.” In the intervening months, Downing not only figured out how to end it but did it with a bang. And that is all I am prepared to tell you about the ending, largely because I am still processing the notion that this fine series has (“probably”) drawn to a close. The Station books—from 2007’s Zoo Station to the latest, Masaryk Station—are without a doubt some of the finest espionage novels these days, easily inviting comparison to the legends of the genre like John le Carré, Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy. In Masaryk Station, set in 1948 Berlin, protagonist John Russell, an American agent doing double duty for the Soviets, has to tread carefully. He’s hoarding information to dispense judiciously to his handlers in both camps, and one false move will bring charges of treason, assuming he lives long enough to answer for his crimes. If he’s lucky, he will come out of it with his freedom, his family and his life intact. If not, he will at least go down fighting. I stand by the assertion that it would be a good idea to read these books in order. You won’t want to read anything else until you have devoured the entire series.