Rating: 3* of five
The Book Report: A Kindle original mystery novel, first in the Frank Callahan series. When three famous actors are murdered, and defaced DVDs of their most famously obnoxious roles found near their dead bodies, LAPD isn't just puzzled. They're stumped. Frank Callahan, out gay homicide detective, and his hetero partner Barry Sullivan, are named leads on this high-profile investigation. As the body count mounts, the men are driven to some pretty desperate measures, including a hilarious trip to a gay bathhouse for Barry, and the strangest movie audition there ever was. Along the way, the scumbag politico Police Commissioner, the squad's resident homophobes, and even the Captain of their unit variously do little to help or actively hinder the two men in their efforts to prevent further loss of Hollywood life at the hands of a social conservative nutball with an axe to grind with the modern world.
In the end, justice is served, but not in the way I was expecting it to be.
My Review: There's a really good mystery in here. The problem is that it's buried under a whole lot of unnecessary and unhelpful words. The characters are promising, and there are some real issues the author grapples with...vitiated by way too many words. And to make that more frustrating, the words are used to build up things that a) aren't important to the mystery or the main character's path, and 2) don't have grace or elegance to recommend them.
The writing is not bad. It's a first novel, so I give a lot of extra credit for that. There are the (sadly now) standard cases of wrong-worditis, and there are punctuation infelicities, and there are a few real puzzlers...who in the hell has heard a busy signal in the past 10 years? Why isn't anyone texting?...but in the main, the characters have differentiated voices and are more than mouthpieces for a point of view.
EXCEPT for Moose, a really creepy homophobe who is Callahan's nemesis. His 'tude is so OTT that any boss with this fool on his team would be looking to offload him simply to avoid future trouble. Half a star vanished for that. Another half-star vanished for the badly handled romantic angle, picked up and dropped and picked up and dropped, and never made enough of to make it the plot driver that it's clearly meant to be. But this is a first book. I'll be patient, read another one, and see where this intriguing set-up takes me. Coming with?