cover image Come Back Dead: A Scott Elliot Mystery

Come Back Dead: A Scott Elliot Mystery

Terence Faherty. Simon & Schuster, $22 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-684-83084-1

Last time out, Scott Elliott-WWII hero, failed actor and security guy-waded through Kill Me Again, a lengthy exercise in hackneyed movie trivia. The subject matter then was a murder set around the filming of a sequel to a film a lot like Casablanca. Although the old actor dying from cancer on the edge of this new narrative is Bogartish in the extreme, readers instead should think Orson Welles. It's 1955, and Carson Drury, a onetime movie wonderkid who is now exiled somewhere in Indiana, is reshooting a new ending to his flawed masterpiece, The Imperial Andersons. Drury is bent on resurrecting his reputation and staying one jump ahead of the mysterious accidents that dog his steps, accidents that start with falling cameras and seem destined to end with a killing. The trouble here, beyond the fact that Faherty doesn't deliver enough Tinseltown insider stuff to tax any serious old film buff, is that the essential killing doesn't appear until the middle of the book. By then, the pedestrian references and cardboard persona of Elliott will have most likely worn down all but the most determined reader. Elliott, a hunk and a family man, is a nice enough guy, but his character needs more attentive prose than it receives. Fans of the author's Owen Keane series, notably the fine works like The Lost Keats and Deadstick, are in for a letdown here. (Feb.)