The latest novel in the acclaimed Shortcut Man series is a rousing tale of sex, sleaze, and salvation in the City of Angels that’s “filled with enough dark humor and shady characters to satisfy the most rabid noir fan” (Associated Press).
Our hero Dick Henry—aka the Shortcut Man—becomes involved in a case featuring an aging but still amorous Los Angeles movie mogul named Howard Hogue who keeps a stable of young starlets available for his highly ritualized attentions. Retained by the sister of a young woman who has gone missing, Henry becomes friendly with Connie Cielo, the “housemother” to the starlets. Despite Connie’s morally questionable responsibilities, she is willing to help (and enjoy the company of) the Shortcut Man.
After Hogue’s star director assaults one of these women in a drug-fueled romp, Henry is drawn into a deeper mystery from years past involving a mysterious death on a boat and a missing screenplay written by what appears to be a homeless man. As he peels back layer upon layer of sordid Hollywood history, Dick Henry must contend with crazed drug dealers, Hogue’s personal doctor, crooked cops, private security henchmen, and Hogue himself—who is so powerful and bunkered in his movie-biz millions that he is unfazed by the resourceful Henry.
A wry and rollicking read, Vexations of the Shortcut Man proves that p.g. sturges is “one of the cleverest and funniest new writers to grace the mystery genre in quite some time” (BookPage.com).
At the outset of Sturges's uneven third crime novel featuring L.A. fixer and ex-cop Dick Henry (after 2012's The Tribulations of the Shortcut Man), Henry gets a disbarred attorney, who owes a client $3,300, to pay up by threatening to expose that he's practicing law without a license. But first Henry urinates on a ficus plant in the man's office. Henry later employs a contact with horrific body odor to prevent another client from being scammed. Such humorous moments bring some relief from the many unpleasant people and their sordid crimes that preoccupy Henry in the course of the book beginning with a psychotic and megasuccessful Hollywood director, who beats up, tortures, and then uses a gun to sodomize an unsuccessful actress. Fans of the screwball comedies made by the author's celebrated film director father, Preston Sturges, will note that the son has taken a different path.