cover image The Pictures

The Pictures

Guy Bolton. Point Blank, $24.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-78607-039-5

The execution of British screenwriter Bolton’s first novel, set in Los Angeles in 1939, falls short of the nifty noir premise. Det. Jonathan Craine is the LAPD’s fixer for the movie studios that make the local economy hum. His history of supplying tidy resolutions to messy problems, rather than actual justice, begins to weigh heavily on him after a young woman’s murder links back to a blackmail racket out of MGM Studios, just as its chief, Louis B. Mayer, prepares for the premiere of The Wizard of Oz. Bolton has clearly done his homework on pre-WWII Hollywood, but his efforts to evoke the setting are marred by leaden explanations of Craine’s motivations, Briticisms, and otherwise sloppy prose. A hard-boiled American detective, for example, is unlikely to eat a meal “with a bottle of claret.” Still, Bolton has imagination to spare, and hopefully he’ll do better next time. Agent: Anna Power, Johnson & Alcock (U.K.). (Sept.)