Former big-city newspaper editor Wright's stellar second John Ray Horn novel (after 2003's Clea's Moon, which won the C.W.A.'s Debut Dagger Award) legitimately merits comparison to the work of James Ellroy. A disgraced former movie cowboy and ex-con, Horn walks the mean streets of post-WWII Los Angeles in search of the brutal killer who snuffed out the life of Rose Galen, a faded leading lady who co-starred in one of Horn's films. A shameful secret from the victim's past forces Horn to challenge the official theory of the crime-that the killing was a random act. Aided by his current boss (and former faithful movie sidekick) Joseph Mad Crow, Horn pounds the pavement and reaches out to old friends to identify the source of Galen's guilty conscience. Wright does a superb job of integrating a fair-play whodunit plot into a hard-boiled setting rife with personal and official corruption. He also manages to invest bit players-such as a lonely old fellow boarder of Galen's at the down-and-out hotel where she died-with humanity and dignity that provide a striking and dramatic counterpoint to the warped inner lives of some Hollywood notables. Wright's narrative gifts mark the arrival of a significant new noir voice who hopefully has many more Horn stories in him. Agent, Elizabeth Winick. (May 24) Forecast: Stronger than Clea's Moon, this one should garner award nominations on this side of the Atlantic. Blurbs from some big names would be welcome in support of the third in the series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In post-World War II Los Angeles, John Ray Horn, who first appeared in Clea's Moon, works as a debt collector for his friend, Mad Crow, an Indian casino owner. Horn and Crow both used to star in B cowboy films (think the Lone Ranger and Tonto). Enter another former co-star Rose, whom Horn encounters in a bar. They begin catching up; however, next thing he knows, Rose is murdered. He investigates, sifting through details of her life since the "old" days for clues and trying to clear Mad Crow's daughter from suspicion. A strong, unusual hero, evocative L.A. surroundings, and well-written prose make this a good choice for James Ellroy fans and other readers who enjoy noirish crime novels. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The murder of a washed-up B-movie actress takes a costar on a bittersweet journey down memory lane. Before WWII, ruggedly handsome John Ray Horn starred in a handful of lesser studio westerns. After a stint in the army and a misstep that resulted in prison, Horn is working as the sidekick to Joseph Mad Crow, another former actor. Between his casino, his remote ranch, and his wild teenage daughter Cassie, Mad Crow has his hands full. He relies on Horn like a brother, especially when the righteous duo is investigating the occasional murder (Clea's Moon, 2003). While exacting justice on two rednecks who assaulted Cassie, Horn and Mad Crow run into Rose Galen, once Horn's costar, now years past her salad days. So changed is she by drink and hard times that he barely recognizes her. Living in the ramshackle Rook House, she scrapes together a living on the wrong side of the law. The couple reminisce awkwardly, and Horn extends a helping hand, but too late to prevent someone from brutally killing Rose. Under the circumstances, finding the murderer seems the least he can do. But the investigation means unearthing painful skeletons from his past, tangling with police detective Luther Coby, and keeping an eye on Cassie, who thinks she can solve the crime herself. Melancholy, evocative prose and roman a clef subplots from the heyday of the Hollywood studios effectively create split-level nostalgia. Agent: Elizabeth Winick/Macintosh & Otis
Edward Wright grew up in Arkansas and went to school in Tennessee and Illinois. He has been an officer in the U.S. Navy and an editor at the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. His noir-flavored mysteries featuring John Ray Horn, set in Los Angeles during the 1940s, have won the Shamus Award in the U.S. and the Debut Dagger and Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award in the U.K. His first non-series book, “Damnation Falls,” a contemporary mystery-thriller set in small-town Tennessee, won the Barry Award. He and his wife, Cathy, live in the Los Angeles area.