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Greed and Stuff
by Jay Russell
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312261683, Hardcover)Penzler Pick, March 2001: Hollywood mysteries are a popular subgenre. While some writers (Stuart M. Kaminsky, George Baxt, and Loren D. Estleman, for example) have made it their practice to depict a bygone Tinseltown, back when legends were deserving of the name, Jay Russell prefers the present time, in all its pecking-order-mad, insincerity-reeking and trend-crazed lunacy.
Welcome to the world of Marty Burns (hero of Celestial Dogs and Burning Bright), a former sitcom star turned private eye, now acting again in a souped-up version of his own life, the spoofy shamus series Burning Bright. While on episode hiatus, Marty's agreed to do a favor for Hall Emerson, one of his poker-game buddies, which involves looking for a print in the studio archives of a forgotten 1950 noir program, The Devil on Sunday. The late Frank Emerson, father of Hall, was the screenwriter for the flick. Now that there's talk of a remake, Hall's being tapped as a possibility for the screenplay job, with the paternal legacy angle looking like a publicity plus. The only trouble is, there seems to be a scene missing from the final cut of the original--a scene that Emerson pére didn't write--and Hall's hoping Marty will help him find a copy so he can see exactly what was in it.
The request seems simple enough, but this is a Jay Russell mystery, after all, and asking Marty for a favor in any of them usually involves his chasing some Hollywood version of the White Rabbit into a very dangerous Wonderland. But if Alice had her wide-eyed innocence for armor, the show biz veteran Marty's wisecracks are often all that stand between him and oblivion. The fun of Greed & Stuff, as with the two earlier books, is not just the story. It's perfect for anyone who welcomes an excuse to rummage around in the dusty storerooms of forgotten noir movie-making, while simultaneously satirizing its current hot status for Hollywood hipsters.
Jay Russell is a brave man. He spares no one, or rather, he spears everyone, from Calista Flockhart to Chris Carter, from Joel Schumacher to Joel Silver. Greed & Stuff is sharp, comic, and out there--a book for mystery readers not satisfied with tamer stuff. --Otto Penzler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:51 -0400)
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