Babylon Nights
Daniel Depp
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Buy *Babylon Nights: A David Spandau Novel* by Daniel Depp online

Babylon Nights: A David Spandau Novel
Daniel Depp
Simon and Schuster
336 pages
August 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In his wisecracking follow-up to Loser’s Town, Depp follows the trail of scorpion’s poison through the ramshackle bowels of Los Angeles to Nice and Cannes, the rarified, salubrious playgrounds of the rich and the famous. Gritty and urban with a throat-slashing psycho hairdresser at its core, Babylon Nights features the return of ironic private investigator Dave Spandau, a loveable character still living on the edge.

Spandau is attending the funeral of infamous actor Bobby Dye when he gets a chance to meet with famous Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Anna Mayhew. David arrives at Anna's gated mansion ostensibly to check out her new security arrangements, but also to be her newly appointed private security guard. Anna has been receiving a series of letters covered in red ink. The notes are nothing violent or threatening, but they are creepy and obsessive, and a little submissive.

Dave doesn’t mention it to Anna or Pamela (Anna's sister cum assistant), but the red ink looks strangely like blood. David is deeply concerned for Anna’s safety. She’s been going through an extremely bad time. Pamela tells David the roles are drying up, and the ones being offered embarrass her even though she knows that she’ll eventually have to take them.

Fifteen years ago, Anna had posed nude for a magazine spread. The photos are out there on the Internet, being incessantly Googled by Vincent Perec, a boy psychopath who sits in his floored attic, surrounded by computer-printed images of his seductive idol. As Perec plots his moves toward his goddess, he tries to ignore the abusive taunts of his sickly mother, who hovers over him and shouts as though “crazed by God.”

Anna, harboring fleeting visions of “a gray-haired, saggy-assed future self,” unexpectedly finds herself attracted to the gruff, sexy Spandau, even hiring him to accompany her to the Cannes Film Festival where she is certified to appear as a judge. David’s encounter with a three-pound cast iron skillet in downtown Los Angeles sets him on the path as Anna's protector and savior. Still, with all of Dave's efforts to protect Anna in force, there is no positive link to the unnerving letters.

A lemon-colored sun clears a pinkish Los Angeles skyline, and a tiny vial with a synthesis of five of the ugliest toxins known to man echoes throughout this fast-paced thriller. Intending to gain some influence over Perec, Special - a local opera-loving pimp - begins to track the psycho, determined to win back a bag containing a hundred thousand dollars, following a trail that takes him to Cannes and into the unlikely company of David and Anna.

Just as the budding romance of a fading star might become the stuff of legend, Depp’s writing is as smooth as silk where the famous and the infamous schmooze and booze with pimps and whores. A raving Perec hovers ever more out-of-control, getting closer and closer to his beloved muse. Spandau eventually shows his true mettle in this entertaining tale of love, fame, fortune and greed in which the skewering of the contemporary Hollywood dream is writ large, bad and blood-soaked.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2010

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