Comedy legend Johnny Leland has called in his chips. He's organizing a charity telethon and needs TV cop Richard Belzer to cohost. Not one to let down an old friend -- much less the guy who gave him his start in stand-up comedy -- The Belz gets ready to head out to Las Vegas for the headlining event when he receives a mysterious phone call.
Twenty-six years ago, beautiful starlet Bridget Burgeon was found dead in her Hollywood apartment. Sleeping pills, the coroner ruled, but many questioned whether her relationship with handsome, up-and-coming California congressman Mark Kaye played a role. Kaye's death in a tragic auto accident put an end to any investigation but not to the speculation. Conspiracy theorists have been working overtime ever since, and Paul Venchus, an old newspaper colleague whom Richard hasn't seen in thirty years, claims to have made a breakthrough in the case. A well-known conspiracy theorist himself, The Belz can't resist hearing him out and agrees to meet.
When Venchus turns up dead and a wacky, self-proclaimed female psychic shows up at his hotel in Vegas insisting that Belzer continue their investigation, he reluctantly relents. Relying on The Belz's TV cop know-how and celebrity status, they begin to piece together a series of mysterious deaths that, while rooted a quarter of a century in the past, present some very real dangers in the present. As the bodies start piling up, Belzer finds a legendary hit man hot on his trail and must utilize all of his talents not only to pull off a successful telethon but to solve one of our history's most scandalous conspiracies before his Vegas stint becomes his closing act.
Actor and comic Belzer, best known for his long-running portrayal of the acerbic detective John Munch on the TV series Homicide and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, fares much better with his second light crime novel featuring himself as the amateur sleuth. Both the plotting and the prose are sharper than in 2008's I Am Not a Cop! and offer promise that future books may be better still. Just before Belzer leaves New York City for Las Vegas to cohost a charity telethon, Paul Venchus, with whom Belzer once worked as a reporter, calls and asks for his help cracking a conspiracy. Venchus claims the suspicious deaths of a Marilyn Monroe like actress and her congressman lover were actually murders. After Venchus turns up dead himself, possibly from an alcohol overdose, his girlfriend comes to Vegas to implore Belzer to investigate. Despite a deus ex machina, snappy dialogue and solid pacing makes this a success on its own terms.