Forge. (Valentino, Bk. 6). May 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781250258359. $25.99. M
Film detective/archivist Valentino has almost finished restoring the classic theater he lives above in Los Angeles. At a party in the lobby, his friend Ignacio, an older gentleman with a mysterious past and a love of classic films, invites him to his estate to view a lost film noir from the 1950s. Bleak Street was shelved by the studio when the lead actor, Van Oliver, disappeared as filming ended. The film is everything Valentino had ever heard it was, so when it disappears from the university where he’s taken it for restoration, he is even more determined to find it. An entertainment mogul/rival collector is an additional complication he doesn’t need, especially when deaths start occurring that link the disappearance of the film with that of its star. Valentino realizes he needs to solve both mysteries before his time runs out.
VERDICT Fans of Estleman and this series (Brazen) will enjoy the wealth of film detail that fills out the story without weighing it down. Classic noir tropes are deployed in a modern-day Hollywood with levels of glitz and power that Spade and Marlowe never imagined. [See Prepub Alert, 10/21/19.]
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