Thursday, December 23, 2010

Books: Comfort Reading

Checking in with two favorite series in the waning days of 2010 ...

Hollywood Hills is Joseph Wambaugh’s fourth book about life in Tinseltown’s cop shop. A few new officers are thrown into the mix as well as dual sets of bad guys destined to collide. We have two only-in-L.A. victims of the Great Recession, a caterer turned gentleman’s gentleman and a gallery owner on his uppers. And we have victims of Hollywood itself in a pair of drug-addled teenagers obsessed with ripping off celebrities like their heroes. Wambaugh weaves in the usual tales of humor and heartbreak on the beat, but this time around he puts some of his recurring characters through the wringer. It’s another strong outing. Extra credit for referring to Paris Hilton by her correct job title, “famous person.”

The fifth of Robert J. Randisi’s Rat Pack mysteries, I’m a Fool to Kill You unfolds in 1962. Sands pit boss/fixer Eddie Gianelli gets the call when Ava Gardner appears in the hotel looking for her ex-husband Frank Sinatra only to vanish. Eddie G, aided as always by gastronomical gunsel Jerry Epstein, tracks Ava down to learn that the she went on a bender and lost several days only to find blood literally on her hands when she woke up. Randisi’s portrait of Ava – earthy, seductive, foul-mouthed and fearful of aging – is the best feature of this breezy caper.

Hey, did you know there’s an Ava Gardner museum?