By Ed Kurtz
Pub. Date: December 2, 2014
Rating: 3 & 1/2 out of 5 stars.
So we enter at the prospect of finding "the holy grail" of silent films and soon blend into a parade of bad guys and suspects as our hero attempts to find out why anyone wants him dead and why death and violence follows the film. We also get a slacker sidekick who gets some of the the first person narration along with Graham. It is a fun ride to the end. As if that is not enough, there is an alternating third person narrative in the form of the making of the film in 1926 through the eyes of the unfortunate starlet Grace Baron. It's that switching back to past and present that makes this such a good novel. Aside from worrying about our hero, we get a nice glimpse of the victim and a tasty look at Hollywood in the silent film era. It is a lot to handle in a relatively short novel but author Ed Kurtz handles it like a pro. While the novel has some Raymond Chandleresque echoes, mainly due to the LA setting, the main protagonist is not a detective but just a poor working guy who gets into a mess and finds he has the cajones to fight it. I like that. The only thing that keeps this from going out of the ball park is that it feels a bit formula at first. It doesn't feel like it is going anywhere new and the mystery is a bit easy to figure out. Perhaps it was a little too short for its own good. But it is still a really good read by a writer that has what it takes to go the distance. If you like mysteries, especially those that delves into Hollywood and the alternately glossy and gritty shades of its past, then you will like this novel. Three and a half stars.