The Falling Star: The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 2.
The Falling Star: The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 2
Ariel S. Winter
Hard Case Crime
c/o Winterfall LLC
333 CPW, NY, NY 10025
144 Southwark St., London, England, SE1 OUP
www.HardCaseCrime. com www.titanbooks.com
9781781167946, Paperback, 238 pp., $7.99/9.99 CA$
The second of the books comprising The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy, this book feels more "noir" than its predecessor, "Malniveau Prison" (which took place in France), opening as it doers in the world of Hollywood, at a movie studio in what is here called San Angelo, California, in 1941.
Two of the characters from Book 1, Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosenkrantz, a beautiful young woman, and her much older, alcoholic husband, Shem, are now, a decade later, respectively a movie star who goes by Chloe Rose, and a movie script writer, both at Merton Stein productions. The protagonist in the new book is Dennis Foster, ex-cop and now a private detective, hired by Al Knox, the studio's chief of security, to act as sort of a bodyguard for Clotilde, who thinks she's being followed. When Foster protests that he is not a bodyguard, Knox tells him ".... she only thinks she's being followed. You just need to make her feel safe. For show."
Although Chloe had "displaced champagne as America's favorite French import," there is nothing celestial about her. Her husband, Shem, "looked like a stereotype of the great American author, which he was." As things progress, Foster doesn't like that he is "just here for show, a piece of set decoration, and not a very necessary one either. This case already had a mystery man on the set, a mystery man on the phone, the mystery man that the man on the phone was bargaining for, the mystery man who was drinking and laughing with Shem Rosenkrantz upstairs. I was one too many. I felt like I had come to the party late and got seated at the wrong table," and that he was "hired to babysit a paranoid prima donna." And when more than one dead body is discovered, it serves only to make his assignment more complex, and much more difficult.
The author has the noir writing down pat. There is the requisite male movie star, whose butler was "bald with a horseshoe of hair around the back of his head, a pencil mustache, and a tuxedo with white gloves." A reference to the WPA and a woman with a "tea-length skirt" place it firmly in its era. As well, nothing in these pages reflect what we today call politically correct attitudes. And when Foster is beaten up by men determined to keep him away from the case, the following morning "I had to get undressed before I could get dressed again, which only hurt a little. No more than getting gored by a bull." A man who keeps his word, he will not turn his back on has tasks of finding the killer and saving Chloe from herself.
As was the first book in the trilogy, the novel is very entertaining, and is recommended. And I now have in front of me the last novel in the trilogy, "Police at the Funeral," to which I am very much looking forward.