Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Hollywood sleuth Scott Elliott (last seen in Kill Me Again, LJ 5/1/96), a war hero and one-time actor, works for a company that provides security for movie studios. It is 1955, a time when filmmakers blame their ills on the nascent television industry. One in particular, Carson Drury, tries to stage a comeback by reshooting one of his early films. Elliot must save the film and its crew from sabotage, cross-burning threats, and attempted murder. Strong atmosphere, a somewhat hard-boiled hero, and an evocative look at contemporary Hollywood names, events, and places. For most collections.
It's 1955, and Orson Welles is riding againat least a taller, thinner Welles in a wheelchair, a prematurely washed-up director named Carson Drury who, 15 years after his glorious Hollywood debut, First Citizen, is clutching at the chance to jump-start his stalled career by reshooting the ending of the botched second film, The Imperial Albertsons, snatched from his hands by RKO back in 1942. Now that RKO itself is on the block, Drury, who's managed to purchase the Albertsons negative from the studio's new owner, tire magnate Ty McNally, will get his second chanceif he's not stopped by the saboteur who's swiped his shooting script, slashed the tires of his publicist and cameraman, and set his editing room afire. Worried because he's mortgaged his beloved Encino ranch to a slick developer to pay for the reshoot, Drury hires equally washed-up actor Scott Elliott, of the Hollywood Security Agency, and adjourns to bucolic Traynorville, Indiana, to scout locations and cozy up to McNally's buddy Gilbert Traynor, a potential angel for the troubled production. Out in God's country, though, it's a toss-up who's more hostile: the local KKK, Traynor's dragonish mother, or whoever ups the ante by starting to kill Drury's intimates.
Not as resonantdespite the hammy presence of Carson Druryas Elliott's postwar debut (Kill Me Again, p. 488). But the mystery pays off at the end with enough sockdolagizing surprises for a month at the bijou.