Friday, December 22, 2006

Read: "Fade to Blond" by Max Phillips

Read: Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips, 2004, 0843953500.

Excellent. This is a Hard Case Crime paperback. An original novel, not a reprint. I have a couple more Hard Case books checked out and one is an Ed McBain from about '58. Another is by Pete Hamill but I do not know the vintage.

This was really well written. Nice Hammett like touches in some of the descriptions by the main character, and narrator, Ray Corson. Ray left home early, bummed the rails a few years, saw service in WWII and now, in the mid-1950s or so, he's a washed out actor/screenwriter/boxer/bodyguard in Los Angeles making do as a construction worker. One day a big chested blonde shows up asking for Ray's help as muscle. The blonde says she has been threatened with facial disfurgerment by a local porn producer. Of course, the blonde's story is not all true and Ray, not dumb but not brilliant, struggles a while before he gets to the truth.

Corson's L.A. is filled with aspiring actors, failed actors, talent scouts, and all the gaffers, riggers and set designers that make up the low end of the movie industry. The setting gives an interesting twist by showing the work-a-day world of Hollywood. No glitter in the Phillips' rented rooms and drug dealer house parties.

Phillips is spare in his writing but his character descriptions are sharp enough that we can fill in the empty spaces he leaves. One nice touch by Phillips was when Corson forcibly takes a drug dealer to see a mobster. The dealer is verbally abusive with Corson and Ray says to the reader, "He made me a recommendation."

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