Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Review

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HOLLYWOOD NOIR

by Jeff Mariotte

reviewed by Mona Benjamin

Angel

HOLLYWOOD NOIR takes place during season one of "Angel", when Doyle (forever missed) was still a part of Angel Investigations, and when Detective Kate Lockley still believed that anything that went bump in the night couldn't be anything but human (mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!).

An old, disused office building has become a construction site, and work uncovers a long-dead body bricked into a closet in one of the offices. Before you can say "uh-oh!" all the workers present feel ...something...go through them (you just know this isn't going to be like an episode of "Bones"). Hot on the heels of this discovery, Doyle has a vision back at A.I., of one Betty McCoy in need of some other- wordly help. The only problem is that when they follow the trail from Doyle's vision, the address leads them to...her gravestone in a local cemetery. Cue more weirdness.

Before you know it, a P.I. by the name of Mike Slade is in LA, trying to locate a Harold Wechsler, newly-appointed manager of the Department for Water and Power in Los Angeles. But Slade is also looking for Betty McCoy...and to complicate matters even further, those remains at the construction site? They're his. Not as in they belong to him, they *are* him. And he was murdered and bricked up behind that wall in 1961. Betty was his last client, whom he was desperately trying to help before he was killed, and he's determined to not fail her again now that he's been given a mystical second chance that even he doesn't understand.

But Kate and her colleagues are not very open to helping a man who's A) a P.I. and therefore not to be trusted, B) supposedly dead, C) who seems to be intent on going after one of their city's big-wigs, and D) who has a habit of firing phantom bullets that cause injuries but which leave no trace. Oh, and of course there's Angel, whose own digging leads him from Betty to Slade to Weschsler - which means that he's also getting in Slade's way....

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I particularly loved Slade's first entrance into this strange new world, and the period style used for his character throughout the novel - that authoritative, conspiratorial voice of the world-weary P.I. immortalised by writers such as Hammett and Chandler (and whom Mariotte mentions in his foreward). The jaded Slade's re-introduction into a world that's even messier, nastier and more confusing than when he left it is done with humour and pathos that never runs to cliche, and also rubs nicely alongside Angel's own sense of his place in the world, a world in which he worries, at the beginning of the book, about how much of a difference he's really making. Cordy is in full research-mode here, and following quite a few leads of her own. Poor old Doyle gets posted as head watchman over Betty's grave very early on, and actually spends the entire course of the novel down there, getting the heebie-jeebies and freezing his fingers off. Sometimes leather jackets just aren't enough - when are these guys going to learn to invest in a nice North Face jacket for stakeout duty? But - unfortunately for him - by the time of the denouement, he's not what you could call lonely in that cemetery.

The loveliest thing about this read was just getting to spend time with all these guys again; it reminded me just how much I miss them!

****

Mona Benjamin is a film production coordinator who has worked on such movies as CASINO ROYALE, KING ARTHUR and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.