cover image Brazen: A Valentino Mystery

Brazen: A Valentino Mystery

Loren D. Estleman. Forge, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8046-3

In Estleman’s entertaining fifth Valentino novel (after Shoot), film archivist Valentino uses his extensive knowledge of the minutiae of Hollywood history to help Lt. Ray Padilla of the LAPD track down a bizarrely motivated serial killer. It is Valentino who realizes that the first death, that of his friend Beata Limerick, is not an accident, and who recognizes that the murders are being staged to re-create the final moments of several blond-bombshell actresses of yesteryear who met untimely ends. The investigation is too often subordinate to snippets of information about iconic film stars and anecdotes of incidents from Hollywood’s glamorous past. This makes the story less compelling as a standard mystery, as does the killer remaining offstage for most of the book. Still, many readers will find the setting and the extensive dipping into movie trivia great fun. The convoluted plot hustles along, and Valentino and Padilla are well-realized individuals, as are the secondary characters introduced along the way. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Dec.)