A stunning literary thriller in which an investigative journalist in modern Los Angeles attempts to solve the Golden Age murder of a Hollywood starlet.
1940s Hollywood was an era of decadence and director Theodore Langley was its king. Paired with Eleanor Hayes as his lead actress, Theo ruled the Golden Age of Hollywood. That ended when Eleanor’s mangled body was discovered in Theo’s rose garden and he was charged with her murder. The case was thrown out before it went to trial and Theo fled L.A., leaving his crawling estate, Windhall, to fall into ruin. He hasn’t been seen since.
Decades later, investigative journalist Max Hailey, raised by his gran on stories of old Hollywood, is sure that if he could meet Theo, he could prove once and for all that the famed director killed his leading lady. When a copycat murder takes place near Windhall, the long reclusive Theo returns to L.A., and it seems Hailey finally has his chance.
When Hailey gets his hands on Theo’s long-missing journals, he reads about Eleanor’s stalkers and her role in Theo’s final film, The Last Train to Avalon, a film so controversial it was never released to the public. In the months leading up to her death, something had left her so terrified she stopped coming to work. The more Hailey learns about Avalon, the more convinced he becomes that the film could tell him who killed Eleanor and why she had to die. But the implications of Avalon reach far beyond Eleanor’s murder, and Hailey must race to piece together the murders of the past and present before it’s too late.
The scandalous 1948 murder of 26-year-old actor Eleanor Hayes at Windhall, the home of legendary film director Theodore Bates, propels Barry's corker of a debut. At the time, Bates was charged with Hayes's murder. He disappeared after being acquitted of the crime, which remains unsolved. In the present, investigative journalist Max Hailey, who writes for the Los Angeles Lens, reopens the case to discover who really killed Hayes and also to uncover Bates's whereabouts, if he's still alive. Time and again the obsessive Hailey breaks into now abandoned Windhall in search of evidence that reinforces his suspicions. Missing journals belonging to Bates he uncovers reveal much about Hayes and her part in the director's final, long-lost film, Last Train to Avalon. After two copycat murders take place at Windhall, Hailey's editor at the Lens wants to kill his Windhall story, thinking it folly, though sightings of an elderly Bates in Hollywood keep Hailey on the man's trail. The discovery of Last Train to Avalon leads to a shocking denouement. Vibrant characters match the intricate plot. This thrilling mystery is essential reading for fans of Hollywood's golden age.