DEAD-STICK by L.J. Washburn


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Washburn, who won the Shamus Award and the American Mystery Award for best paperback original for Wild Night, her first novel about silent-film stunt man/private eye Lucas Hallam, returns with a novel about sabotage and murder on the set of WW I epic Death to the Kaiser! Who's behind the rash of accidents--cameras failing, props vandalized, and a fuel line cut on a period plane, almost killing young stunt-pilot Hank Schiller--on the set of producer Carl McGinley's picture? Famous director Denby Swan brushes off the troubles as coincidences; but McGinley is convinced that he's being sabotaged by the local Klan chapter under overbearing B.W. Garrettson, who's out to ruin the film's star--former German flying-ace Wolfram von Ottenhausen--and his sister Lorraine, a reputed Mata Hari. After days of routine checking and fistfights, Lucas finds a link between propman Larry Brownlow and the Klan--but when pilot Hank is killed, new complications point outside the Klan to a squabbling band of spies, smugglers, and fences after the priceless Dresdan figurines of King Ludwig. In between desultory romantic scenes with transplanted country-lady Liz Fletcher (""Something had happened to both of them that day, and neither of them knew what to make of it""), stolid Lucas manages to rescue studio types from burning buildings, solve the mystery, turn the many villains against each other in a bloody finale, and indulge in the occasional lyrical observation (""The thought of her climbing a fence didn't jibe well with her fragile, haughty beauty""). More laid-back than Stuart Kaminsky's name-dropping Toby Peters Hollywood stories, but less intriguing and amusing as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1989
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's