STARRED REVIEW
February 09, 2016

Hollywood secrets caught on film

By Loren D. Estleman

Loren D. Estleman began his prolific career writing crime fiction back in 1976, and he’s written close to 100 books, all high in the excellence quotient. He’s considered to be a master of noir for both his PI Amos Walker series and his Westerns, most featuring U.S. Deputy Page Murdock. Estleman’s most recent series features a film detective named Valentino, who tracks lost films as an archivist at UCLA.

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Loren D. Estleman began his prolific career writing crime fiction back in 1976, and he’s written close to 100 books, all high in the excellence quotient. He’s considered to be a master of noir for both his PI Amos Walker series and his Westerns, most featuring U.S. Deputy Page Murdock.

Estleman’s most recent series features a film detective named Valentino, who tracks lost films as an archivist at UCLA. Shoot, the fourth book in this series, seems a perfect combination of Estleman’s many talents. Full of insider facts about Hollywood’s great Westerns and the genre’s famous stars, it offers a neat mystery with a hint of noir, and delivers a hefty dose of the author’s trademark sly humor. It’s full of deliciously unsavory characters, and we soon know better than to take any of it very seriously. After all, this is Hollywood, where “the sunsets are painted and the stairs don’t go anywhere.”

Valentino gets an invitation to a reception held at the soon-to-close Western-themed Red Montana and Dixie Day museum, hosted by Montana himself, retired as one of the last remaining cowboys of Western film and TV fame. Red draws Valentino aside and hires him for a tricky job: locate the thief who’s blackmailing the aging star over a stag film depicting his beloved wife and film co-star, Dixie, made before she became every red-blooded American boy’s image of fresh-faced, innocent, straight-shootin’ womanhood. Find the blackmailer, destroy the stolen print, and Red will gift Valentino a priceless film, Sixgun Sonata, long hidden from the public and deemed lost.

Shoot runs a gamut of sleazy Los Angeles characters that confuse, delight and amaze. In addition to the famous Montana, Valentino matches wits with a cast of Hollywood characters, including his rival film tracker, the voracious Teddie Goodman, a dragon lady complete with crimson-soled stiletto heels and “reptilian” fashion sense; a couple eager to extend their friendship in unusual directions; the unique Dixie Day herself, faded by illness and loss; Valentino’s boss, Kyle Broadhead, about to tie the knot with a smart looker half his age; and a bunch of sleazy hangers-on hoping to benefit from the Hollywood dream.

Estleman's knowledge and love of Westerns is on full display in Shoot, which is chock full of film references, stories, gab and allusions guaranteed to send you back to watching some of those old movies. Estleman even includes a filmography of his favorites.

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Shoot

Shoot

By Loren D. Estleman
Forge
ISBN 9780765380456

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