Hollywood burglar-turned-detective Junior Bender has a knotty new case to solve—a 60-year-old Tinseltown mystery
There are not many people brave enough to say no to Irwin Dressler, Hollywood’s infamous mob boss-turned-movie king. Even though Dressler is ninety-three years old, Junior Bender is quaking in his boots when Dressler’s henchmen haul him in for a meeting. Dressler wants Junior to solve a “crime” he believes was committed more than seventy years ago, when an old friend of his, once-famous starlet Dolores La Marr, had her career destroyed after compromising photos were taken of her at a Las Vegas party. Dressler wants justice for Dolores and the shining career she never had.
Junior can’t help but think the whole thing is a little crazy. After all, it’s been sixty years. Even if someone did set up Dolores for a fall from grace back then, they’re probably long dead. But he can’t say no to Irwin Dressler (no one can, really). So he starts digging. And what he finds is that some vendettas never die—they only get more dangerous.
In Hallinan's satisfying third Junior Bender novel (after Little Elvises), the L.A. burglar/PI continues to excavate show business's forgotten past, investigating in this installment the also-rans of postwar Hollywood. Dolores La Marr's ascent to movie stardom was quickly halted in 1951 when she was found at a gangland party in a police raid. Decades later, 93-year-old attorney Irwin Dressler, Southern California's most feared powerbroker, is still infatuated with her. When Irwin asks, or rather orders, Junior to determine who set up Dolores all those years ago, the detective must comb through the short list of Dolores's surviving acquaintances, including publicist Pinky Pinkerton, louche director Doug Trent, and arch-rival actress Olivia Dupont. Hallinan de-emphasizes the series' dark humor and recurring characters like Junior's teenage daughter, Rina, and his girlfriend, Ronnie offering instead convincing flashbacks to Dolores's early Hollywood adventures and a sincere look at her eternally deferred Hollywood dreams.