Murder and mayhem—but only traces of glitter—abound in this Hollywood anthology.
“I invited fourteen of today’s best crime writers to craft a tale around the centerpiece of Hollywood & Vine,” says veteran author/anthologist Randisi, and right there, perhaps, is the kiss of death. Pin a writer to a subject, even one so seemingly unconfining as Randisi’s appears to be, and you run the risk of creative backlash. Although there are certainly genre stars aboard—the headliners include Michael Connelly, Bill Pronzini and Stuart Kaminsky—their contributions feel dashed off. The sole exception is Terry Faherty’s “Closing Credits,” featuring series shamus Scott Eliot in a well-written, deftly plotted tale of vengeance, justice and good intentions gone terribly awry. Paul Guyot’s “Barry of Hollywood,” a near-miss damaged by a bland ending, is notable for one darkly funny line. A defunct golfer has been interred when the narrator adds, “People began to move away from Barry and his bad lie.” While the rest, for the most part, are workmanlike and uninspired, “Murderilized,” by Max Allan Collins and Matthew V. Clemens, falls well below that standard. Here the reader is asked to believe that Moe Howard, of The Three Stooges, can reason along with Sherlock Holmes. Hold for the smack on the head.
A collection without much reason for being.