Hollywood PI, sometime actor Eddie Collins is doing a bit on a sitcom when he receives an SOS from an A-list friend. Mike Ford's Oscar has been stolen during a home invasion and Ford's girlfriend has drowned in the swimming pool. Did she surprise the burglar? Whoever it was left behind threatening letters, and Eddie is hired to see if he can unearth their source.
All the dots connect around a movie Ford directed and acted in several years earlier: Red Desert. More than a few people associated with that shoot recall it less than fondly. Is one of them harboring a deadly grudge? Eddie has hired Reggie, an old Army buddy, to do surveillance. Soon Reggie, Eddie's secretary Mavis, and everyone associated with Eddie Collins and Mike Ford seem to be targets. And smoke from the foothills is encroaching on Eddie's Hollywood home/office. Is Eddie's world about to go up in flames?
Originally published in 2015, Red Desert was a finalist for the Shamus Award. Book 2 in the Eddie Collins Mystery series.
About the Author
Clive Rosengren is a recovering actor. His career spanned more than forty years, eighteen of them pounding many of the same streets as his fictional sleuth Eddie Collins. He appeared on stages at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theater, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others. Movie credits include Ed Wood, Soapdish, Cobb, and Bugsy. Among numerous television credits are Seinfeld, Home Improvement, and Cheers, where he played the only person to throw Sam Malone out of his own bar. He lives in southern Oregon's Rogue Valley, safe and secure from the hurly-burly of Hollywood. Rosengren has written three books in the Eddie Collins Mystery series: Murder Unscripted, Red Desert, and Velvet on a Tuesday Afternoon. Books one and two were both finalists for the Shamus Awards, sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America. Visit him at his website, www.cliverosengren.com.
Read an Excerpt
I grabbed a beer from the mini-fridge and filled a glass with Mr. Beam to keep it company. After cobbling together a pastrami sandwich, I put it and a bag of chips on a footstool, picked up the copy of the Reporter, and leafed through it. I certainly don’t pretend to have my finger on the pulse of the Hollywood scene, but I try and keep up with who’s doing what to whom in the biz.
As I took a bite of the sandwich, my eye caught a story on one of the inside pages. The headline read: WOMAN FOUND DEAD IN SWIMMING POOL.
The story went on to say that Janice Ebersole, girlfriend of Mike Ford, had been discovered nude, floating in the actor’s Los Feliz swimming pool. It had happened last night. Police said the preliminary investigation was inconclusive. The victim apparently had slipped and struck her head on the edge of the pool. Death appeared to be from drowning.
My sandwich sat untouched in front of me. The story hit home. I knew Mike Ford. We had worked together years ago doing summer stock. Both of us had subsequently come to Hollywood, albeit a few years apart. We’d remained good friends, catching ball games together and enjoying the occasional poker night. He’d even provided me with employment a time or two over the years. A mere month ago, he’d invited me along on a trip to Magic Mountain with his daughter and Janice.
I picked up the remote and channel-surfed until I saw local news footage on the story. On the screen Mike was seen leaving his house on Nottingham and crawling into a black SUV. Reporters hounded him, but he had nothing to say. I was stunned. Mike was a great guy and a fine actor. He’d been handed a couple of good breaks and had capitalized on them to the point where he now commanded top dollar. He’d also gone on to direct some of his pictures. His success as an actor had even garnered a handful of awards, the most noteworthy being the little golden guy called Oscar.
The reporter tossed the story back to the studio and they went to commercialanother irritating shot of a couple sitting in separate bathtubs gazing into a sunset.
I nibbled on the pastrami sandwich, which tasted like Play-Doh. I sipped my beer and absentmindedly surfed through a few channels, finally landing on Turner Classic Movies. All of a sudden, coincidence exploded from the screen. There in front of me was William Holden floating face down in a swimming pool. The scene was from Billy Wilder’s classic, Sunset Boulevard. Norma Desmond’s delusion eventually led to the demise of Holden’s Joe Gillis.
As I listened to Holden’s voiceover, the similarities between reel and real life came cascading into my head. Art imitating reality? Not quite. Unlike Norma Desmond, Mike Ford hadn’t lost his senses. Of that I was certain. What he had lost was a girlfriend.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the second novel by Clive Rosengren and the second in what I am hoping will be a series featuring actor/private investgator, Eddie Collins. Eddie's film career has become somewhat stagnant, probably because he hasn't embraced the Hollywood game playing required to really make it. But what makes him a good detective are the years spent analyzing characters for movie roles. He's a natural observer. Hollywood's loss is a gain for anyone in the movie industry employing him as a PI. He's a little scruffy, a little damaged and on occassion, a little too trusting. But he has investigative instincts and a lot of inside contacts. His cases take the reader to the darker side of Hollywood and its denizens. I liked this book and Rosengren's first book, 'Murder Unscripted.'