A second helping of teeth-gritting, bone-crunching action in the City of Angels and beyond, from screenwriter and budding crime novelist Depp (Loser’s Town, 2009).
The sweet spot in this sophomore effort is the author’s effortless handling of his main character, laconic L.A. private eye David Spandau, who in a heartbeat can go from Parker-esque banter (“A dry sense of humor and exquisite table manners are a boon in my profession”) to ice-cold cynicism (“Americans were so sure you could fix anything. But some things couldn’t be fixed. Sometimes things just limped around broken”). This go-round is another hell of a stab at Hollywood’s foibles and follies, as the former stuntman agrees to take on the case of a suicidal diva, Anna Mayhew, who’s being threatened by a stalker named Vincent Perec, a hairdresser with a murderous thing for the famous actress. This is a plot we’ve seen in a dozen bad B-movies, but then Depp does the noble thing and turns the story on its head. After murdering his own mother, Perec steals 100K worth of mob money from Special, a pimp with a thing for classical opera and the moral gravity of a rattlesnake. Now, we could have spent the rest of the book watching these three vipers chase each other around Hollywood, but Depp takes us all the way to Cannes, where things really soar. Daniel gets into a fistfight with a filmmaker and Special does his smooth criminal act with the eurotrash girls, while Vincent plans revenge straight out of a James Bond movie. “Here we get to see the rich, the beautiful, the famous, the crude, the stupid, the greedy, the needy, and often just the plain seedy,” Depp writes. “It’s as good, really, as anything Fellini ever filmed.”
A laugh-out-loud crime story; all that's missing is the popcorn.