A filmmaker turns sleuth again, rushing recklessly into the cutthroat, and loopy, skincare industry.
Shy scientist Rod Glaser hires Bill Damien to create an “image piece” for Algoplex, his skincare company. Rod and Mike Riley, his hearty partner, are on the verge of a merger with industry veteran Plush Biologics, a move promising big profits but not smooth sailing for the easygoing partners. Case in point: Bill’s Algoplex shoot goes terribly wrong when Rod’s muse, a soulful free spirit named Alissa, blows off the gig, and Rob, unable to reach her by phone, falls apart. So Bill agrees to look for her, first by breaking into her empty apartment. Alissa’s trashy mother Wendy, who tries to impersonate her daughter at a high-profile Algoplex event, claims unconvincingly that Alissa is just taking a little vacation. Meanwhile, Bill learns that Alissa works for an escort service called Silicon Glamour. Though Rod sheepishly claims their relationship is strictly platonic, some incriminating pictures indicate otherwise. So does the knife Bill soon finds protruding from Rod’s body. As in his debut caper (Knockout Mouse, 2002), Bill is drawn into the case by a combination of duty and empathy. There’s no shortage of suspects, and Bill finds dysfunctional corporate families at both Silicon Glamour and Plush Biologics. But the mystery of absent Alissa looms over all.
Calder draws sharp, entertaining suspect portraits, and Bill’s amiable first-person narration never slackens its pace.