For PI Eddie Collins, the moment Carla Rizzoli sashays into his office casts him deliciously into a scene from a classic noir. Only this femme fatale is a sweet ghost from his past, a time when he made his living exclusively as an actor. Then she was a full-time actress too, and they’d dated briefly before an old flame came back into her life. Now she’s known as Velvet La Rose and making a steady living as an exotic dancer at the Feline Follies. She needs Eddie’s services to find her missing brother Frankie Rizzoli, who sent her a cryptic message warning her to watch her back. Eddie falls hard for Carla, who hasn’t given up on acting. In fact, she’s about to start work on a B-movie, Festival of Death. Now motivated by more than a paycheck, Eddie searches for Frankie, last seen hiding out among the homeless. Frankie was once a member of the military police, and an old photo identifies an old Army buddy, James Curran, who starts to cross paths with both Eddie and Carla with increasing frequency. What is Frankie mixed up in and why doesn’t he want to be found? How does James Curran figure in? As Eddie questions the residents of Skid Row and works undercover as an extra in Festival of Death, he searches in vain for the links between Frankie and James and Carla. He needs answers soon, or Carla may slip through his fingers again, this time into oblivion. Book 3 in the Eddie Collins Mystery series, which began with Murder Unscripted and Red Desert.
At the start of Rosengren's assured third Eddie Collins mystery (after 2015's Red Desert), the part-time movie actor and full-time PI gets a visit from Carla Rizzoli, an actress he once briefly dated, at his L.A. office. Carla, now an exotic dancer known as Velvet La Rose, hires Eddie to locate her missing brother, Frankie, an army vet. Carla recently received a letter from Frankie, her first contact in almost eight years, on letterhead from the Los Angeles Mission downtown. He tells his sister he's in trouble and that she should watch her back. Eddie soon learns that Phil Scarborough, one of Frankie's old army buddies, is also looking for him. The more Eddie looks, the more odd connections he finds linking Frankie, Phil, and another army vet to Festival of Death, a movie Carla, who's still acting on the side, is working on. He goes undercover among the homeless, and even uses his acting experience to work as an extra on Carla's movie project, in his search for answers. In the end, Eddie proves to be a pretty resourceful and impressive detective.