Let's All Kill Constance

Let's All Kill Constance

4.5 6
by Ray Bradbury

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"On a dismal evening, an unnamed writer in Venice, California, answers a furious pounding at his beachfront bungalow door - and once again admits a dangerous icon into his life. Constance Rattigan, an aging, once-glamorous Hollywood star, stands soaked and shivering in his foyer, clutching two anonymously delivered books that have sent her running in fear from… See more details below


"On a dismal evening, an unnamed writer in Venice, California, answers a furious pounding at his beachfront bungalow door - and once again admits a dangerous icon into his life. Constance Rattigan, an aging, once-glamorous Hollywood star, stands soaked and shivering in his foyer, clutching two anonymously delivered books that have sent her running in fear from something she dares not acknowledge: twin lists of the Tinseltown dead and soon-to-be-dead...with Constance's name included among them." "And, just as suddenly, she vanishes into the stormy night, leaving the narrator with her macabre "gifts" and an unshakable determination to get to the root of the actress's grand terror." So begins an odyssey as dark as it is wondrous, as the writer sets off in a broken-down jalopy with his irascible sidekick, Crumley, to sift through the ashes of a bygone Hollywood. But a world that once sparkled with larger-than-life luminaries - Dietrich, Valentino, Harlow - is now a graveyard of ghosts and secrets. Each twisted road our heroes travel leads to grim shrines and shattered dreams - a remote cabin where history is preserved in mountains of yellowed newsprint; a cathedral where sinners hold sway; a forgotten projection booth where the past lives eternally on in an endless loop of cinematic youth and beauty. And always the road turns back to lost filmdom's temple, a fading movie palace called Grauman's Chinese, and to the murky hidden catacombs beneath.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bradbury, a legend in his own time, seems never to run out of creative inspiration. He follows up last year's acclaimed From the Dust Returned with a mystery novel that's also a loving, tongue-in-cheek tribute to early Hollywood. Set in 1960, the book features an unnamed science fiction writer ("what if... in some future date people use newspapers or books to start fires," he muses aloud). Late one night (stormy, of course), while he's trying to finish a novel, ancient but still-beautiful screen star Constance Rattigan bursts into his house frantically waving a 1900 Los Angeles telephone directory-the "Book of the Dead," as the writer calls it. Someone has left it at her house, with the names of those still alive circled in red and marked with a sinister cross-her name among them. Is she being marked for death? With his sidekick, Elmo Crumley, the writer dashes from one storied Los Angeles spot to the next, looking for the would-be murderer and warning the others on the list. The tour includes Rattigan's house, set on a nerve-wracking bluff and home to tons of ancient newspapers and a spookily decrepit old man who turns out to be Rattigan's brother, Clarence. Many other eccentrics make an appearance in this whirlwind of staccato dialogue, puns and references to old Hollywood and Chandler-era L.A. noir. Bradbury's giddy pleasure is infectious; though he throws in an unexpected conclusion, it's the author's exuberant voice more than the mystery itself that will have readers hooked. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This atmospheric noir novel from sf great Bradbury has a protagonist who could be a stand-in for the writer, a fast-talking damsel in distress, and a host of other odd characters who live in a decrepit Hollywood full of ghosts from the 1920s and 1930s. The screenwriter hero's proverbial dark and stormy night in 1960 is interrupted by Constance Rattigan, a has-been film star who is terrified that someone is out to kill her and those connected with her past, who confides in him and then disappears. The screenwriter and his detective pals fear for Constance's physical and mental safety as, one by one, her trail leads to dead bodies. Though professing to be a mystery, this book is more about mood than plot, raising larger questions of identity while providing loving descriptions of crepuscular Hollywood landmarks and citizens. The staccato writing style even reflects screen dialog, and Bradbury draws on his adolescence in California to add authenticity. Recommended for all public libraries and those in love with long-ago Hollywood and its lost souls. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/02.]-Devon Thomas, Hass MS&L, Ann Arbor, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A third sort-of-mystery for the screenwriter hero of Death is a Lonely Business (1985) and A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), now grown old enough to be a disillusioned hack, but not old enough to have acquired a name. It's a dark and stormy night when silent star Constance Rattigan turns up outside the writer's bungalow quivering with fright. The reason lies in a pair of anonymous gifts: a 60-year-old Los Angeles telephone directory from 1900 and her own little black book, discarded long ago but now mysteriously returned annotated with symbols that seem to mark her and her few surviving friends for death. At dawn, hours after his intuitive wife Maggie has phoned from a teachers' conference to ask who's in bed with him, he awakens to find Rattigan gone. Her astral disappearance is the first indication, apart from the antic prose, that this is no ordinary whodunit, even though the body count will eventually stretch to include astrologer to the stars Queen Califia (née Alma Crown), whose go-for-it reading of June 10, 1932, got Constance to leap into holy matrimony with Clarence Rattigan (né Overholt); Constance's brother, Father Seamus Rattigan of St. Bibiana's; and her ancient father, Grauman's Chinese projectionist Clyde Rustler. As the hero and his sidekick, beer-swilling shamus Elmo Crumley, rocket like pinballs from down-again filmmaker Fritz Wong to Hollywood Everyman Alberto Quickly and Hollywood Everywoman J. Wellington Bradford, hope fades that their madcap adventures will end in solving the case. But SF legend Bradbury (One More for the Road, p. 227, etc.) miraculously produces a solution that honors both the mystery formula and his own deeper roots in fantasy. Only one questionremains: Has the superheated prose on display here finally caught up with the postmodernism of Don Webb's pastiches, or has postmodernism caught up with the prophetic Bradbury? Tune in next week.
Time magazine
“Bradbury remains a conjurer.”
Washington Post Times-Herald
“Ray Bradbury’s writing remains as rich and ripe as ever.”
Chicago Tribune
“Ray Bradbury remains a master storyteller, and his writing still cracks my hat.”
Time Magazine
"Bradbury remains a conjurer."

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.86(d)

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