MOTH AND FLAME by John Morgan Wilson


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Recovering from the traumatic events of Blind Eye (2003), disgraced ex-journalist Benjamin Justice has been put on Prozac. But the rest of his world hasn’t.

It should be a festive time, since West Hollywood is marking its 20th anniversary. Things are also looking up for Justice, who’s gotten some last-minute work on a series of pamphlets celebrating the city. Yet he can’t help wondering about his predecessor, community archivist Bruce Bibby, slain by a burglar who took nothing but his ancient computer. Was Bibby really killed to protect a secret his research had disclosed? Justice’s old friend, LA Times reporter Alexandra Templeton, is convinced by smooth-talking psychology prof Roderick Ford’s comparison of brain scans that the police suspect, Victor Androvic, inherited a predisposition to violence from his father, an executed serial murderer. Justice, who rescued his sister from abused by killing his own father, doesn’t buy the pat wisdom that genetics equals fate. He suspects the motive for Bibby’s death is buried in the long-running battle between developer Lester Cohen and preservationist Lydia Ruttweller over the Sherman cottages, a property Alzheimer’s-stricken Colin Harrison has neglected. His libido squelched by the Prozac, Justice coolly regards each good-looking man he meets as a potential killer.

Wilson scatters clues so generously that most readers will beat Justice to the punch. Along the way, though, they’ll find an affectionate portrait of West Hollywood and some hard-won wisdom about fathers and sons.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-312-30984-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2004


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