Design Image, 2001, 15.95, 238 pp.
In 1951 Los Angeles, Charlotte Randolph hires private investigator Brian Kane to tail her movie star spouse Lester so she can learn the names of the wannabes he sleeps with. Brian discovers that Lester uses Noni Light, Lydia Lane, and Gloria Hastings to fill his evenings. The sleuth goes to his client's Beverly Hills' home to present his findings, but Charlotte denies hiring him. On closer inspection he realizes that someone similar looking used her identity to hire him two weeks ago.
Not long afterward the “not” Charlotte visits Brian's apartment. She demands the report pulling a gun on the sleuth. Brian easily disarms his client before giving her the report, but keeps the gun. The next day LAPD Detective Kansas Michaels informs him that someone shot and killed Noni and he is a suspect because everyone knows he followed her. Brian says nothing. Afterward he looks for the gun, but it is gone. Thinking back to yesterday, he realizes his client wore gloves while his fingerprints are on the weapon.
The first Kane Hollywood noir is an exciting tale that fans of 1950 hard-boiled mysteries will appreciate. Brian is a fabulous throwback to tales like The Big Sleep and his relationship with appointment queen Kitty Chaney is unique and fascinating. The clever twist that propels Brian to make inquiries before Kansas locks him up is the first gamut in a strong who-done-it. Strongly recommend this novel and the sequel THE DEAL KILLER that was so much fun it actually led this reviewer to this book.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner