WHILE I DISAPPEAR: A John Ray Horn Novel

Edward Wright, Author . Putnam $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-15198-9

Former big-city newspaper editor Wright's stellar second John Ray Horn novel (after 2003's Clea's Moon , which won the C.W.A.'s Debut Dagger Award) legitimately merits comparison to the work of James Ellroy. A disgraced former movie cowboy and ex-con, Horn walks the mean streets of post–WWII Los Angeles in search of the brutal killer who snuffed out the life of Rose Galen, a faded leading lady who co-starred in one of Horn's films. A shameful secret from the victim's past forces Horn to challenge the official theory of the crime—that the killing was a random act. Aided by his current boss (and former faithful movie sidekick) Joseph Mad Crow, Horn pounds the pavement and reaches out to old friends to identify the source of Galen's guilty conscience. Wright does a superb job of integrating a fair-play whodunit plot into a hard-boiled setting rife with personal and official corruption. He also manages to invest bit players—such as a lonely old fellow boarder of Galen's at the down-and-out hotel where she died—with humanity and dignity that provide a striking and dramatic counterpoint to the warped inner lives of some Hollywood notables. Wright's narrative gifts mark the arrival of a significant new noir voice who hopefully has many more Horn stories in him. Agent, Elizabeth Winick. (May 24)

Forecast: Stronger than Clea's Moon, this one should garner award nominations on this side of the Atlantic. Blurbs from some big names would be welcome in support of the third in the series.

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-425-19959-6
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