Who says blondes have more fun? Certainly not the three women who are killed in unnervingly precise restagings of the death scenes of real-life Hollywood blondes.
From the very first murder, the case strikes home for Valentino, the UCLA film preservationist whose mission in life, restoring The Oracle to its former glory as a movie palace, keeps getting derailed by homicides (Shoot, 2016, etc.). That’s because the victim is his friend Beata Limerick, a starlet who bowed out of the movies when she married the much older businessman Pietro Jacobelli, who left her widowed and wealthy and with a healthy respect for the curse of blonde leading ladies dead before their time but wasn’t around to keep her from being force-fed an overdose of Nembutal while a recording of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” plays over and over in the background. Lt. Ray Padilla, Valentino’s LAPD frenemy, is ready to call the apparent suicide a murder, but he resists the Monroe parallels for three days—until Karen Ogilvie, another ex-actress married to a major UCLA film preservation donor, is killed in a manner that immediately recalls the death of Thelma Todd. Nor does his gender protect female impersonator Geoffrey Root from a staged car accident that screams Jayne Mansfield. Padilla is ready to haul Root’s live-in partner, Eleazar Sheridan, to the pokey and call it quits. But Valentino keeps insisting over and over again that he’s solved the case, and he turns out to be right just in time to prevent the murder of a latter-day Sharon Tate.
Middling, highly proficient work from a pro who makes a virtue of economy by getting every chapter, scene, and sentence to pull its weight and then some.