Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The DVD Murders by Bob Frey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Infinity Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7414-4972-2 (0741449722)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7414-4972-6 (9780741449726)
Publication Date: November 2008
List Price: $16.95
Review: Bob Frey introduces LAPD detective Frank Callahan on the trail of a ruthless killer of A-list actors in The DVD Murders.
Following the very public murders of two popular actors, a case to which Callahan and his partner Barry Jennings are assigned, the killer writes an op-ed piece for publication decrying the depravity of Hollywood, that movies, and by extension the actors that play in them, are destroying the moral integrity of the country. Because no one seems to be paying attention, or to even care, actors will continue to be targeted until a change is effected. Despite putting considerable resources on the investigation, little is accomplished, frustrating Callahan. He's convinced a psychological profile prepared by the FBI is their best chance to find the killer, but others on the task force disagree. In the end it comes down to an idea proposed by Barry's aunt that gives them the breakthrough that they need to ultimately find the killer.
The DVD Murders, not to put too fine a point on it, is a mess of a mystery. The book reviewed was an ARC published in August so it's possible many of the issues noted here have already been resolved prior to its expected November publication date. But setting aside the production issues -- countless misspelled words, erratic punctuation, and improper formatting for incorporated quoted text, to name just a few -- there are significant narrative problems. Examples of these include abrupt and inconsistent changes in points of view, and flashbacks that are erratically inserted into the middle of otherwise coherent passages.
And then there's the plot. The story has the potential of being an interesting, if more than a little bit derivative, mystery. But the author misses a prime opportunity to have some fun with it. Consider the irony of a gay cop investigating the murder of actors by someone who believes they can dictate the morals of the country by committing a cardinal sin. To be sure there are the occasional nuggets of social comedy with some characters being put in unfamiliar situations, but the author plays it straight, as it were, for much of the book. The investigation itself has a random, Keystone cops (without the humor) feel to it and even after implementing Barry's aunt's idea to catch the killer it takes far too long to do so. In the end, The DVD Murders is a tedious police procedural with little to recommend it.
Special thanks to Bob Frey for providing an ARC of The DVD Murders for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.
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Synopsis (from the publisher): Follow Detective Frank Callahan, a big, rough, blue-collar sort of guy who happens to be gay, as he and his fellow Irish Catholic sidekick, Barry, pursue the elusive DVD killer across the streets of Hollywood, through gay bars and cruising grounds, on a chase around Six Flags Magic Mountain, Forest Lawn, and other L.A. landmarks. Witness Callahan’s evolution from a seeker of personal glory to team player, his monumental showdown with a gay-bashing rival detective, the brutish Moose Kohler, and his reunion with his estranged lover, a fascinating character named Car. In the end, it’s good, old-fashioned police work with an assist from Barry’s Aunt Bee, a walking encyclopedia of film lore that leads to the killer’s downfall in an exciting climax reminiscent of Hollywood’s legendary gangster film, White Heat.
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