The Big House

Tom Tolnay, Author, Cazort, Author, Thomas Tolnay, Author Walker & Company $19.95 (188p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3218-7
In this second installment in the Igor Lopes series, Tolnay fails to hang a convincing mystery on the absurd and poorly executed conceit he has carried over from Lopes's first outing ( Celluloid Gangs ). The action begins bewilderingly, in medias res, as sad-sack journalist Lopes again finds himself a prisoner of a cabal of dead movie stars--among them Marilyn Monroe, Sydney Greenstreet and Orson Welles--in the ``Big House,'' an abandoned movie studio in Queens, N.Y. Somewhat inexplicably, the reanimated stars have chosen to rewrite Hamlet for a movie they plan to make for living audiences. Meanwhile, a group of horror-movie stars of the past, led by Claude Rains, are hatching a plot to sabotage the production. Via a series of confusing, haphazard plot devices, Lopes becomes entangled in the scheme and must find a way to extricate himself or else face a fate that, again, is never quite specified. Tolnay strings together the hackneyed elements of the story seemingly with the sole purpose of trotting out one deceased screen personality after another. Nor does he succeed in recreating those beloved movie icons: as depicted here, they lack even the superficial appeal of caricatures, and so they become, in one character's fitting malapropism, almost ``one-dimensional.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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