cover image The Monet Murders

The Monet Murders

Terry Mort. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60598-697-5

Some readers may find it tough to take someone calling himself Bruno Feldspar seriously—and the fledgling PI using that nom de guerre most decidedly doesn’t, part of the charm of this breezy debut noir set in Tinseltown circa 1934. Though there are, as the title promises, multiple stiffs in this deft blend of art theft, adultery, and Hollywood sleaze, Mort (The Hemingway Patrols) generally keeps the banter-filled proceedings as bubbly as the beverage his handsome protagonist frequent shares with a number of knockouts, notably Garbo-esque Myrtle George, whom he has helped nail a studio contract. The intrigue centers on Bruno’s investigation into the possible switch of an ersatz Monet with the real deal—and, if so, what this might have to do with at least two violent deaths—but much of the novel’s appeal lies in its rogues’ gallery of characters, including raffish British art expert “Bunny” Finch-Hayden and Bruno’s hard-boiled part-time secretary, Della, who also runs an escort service. Readers will hope to see more of Bruno. [em]Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media. (Sept.) [/em]