The ongoing drama of police work has finally paid off for L.A. detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs, their latest case the subject of a Hollywood screenplay with the potential to change their lives from rags to riches.
The influential power broker and big-money man Barry Gerber has arranged to meet with Lomax and Biggs to sign the contract that will assure their futures. But at the last minute, in true Hollywood style, Gerber sends Halsey Bates to escort the cops to the screening of his latest movie, “ICU”, where they will sign that night.
Gerber has a reputation as possibly the vilest personality in the movie business, but that hasn’t hurt his success in Hollywood, a place that thrives on gossip and conflict. Lomax and Biggs don’t care as long as the proposed $250,000 is deposited in their bank accounts. Neither has ever been to a premiere, so they are willing to step up to the challenge.
As expected, the premiere is crowded with paparazzi and screaming fans, the coup de grace the arrival of the conceited star, Damien Hedge, via a wailing ambulance with two buxom “nurses” to monitor his vitals for the crowd’s entertainment. When Gerber fails to show at the theater, Lomax and Biggs leave without their deal, not very impressed by what they have seen that night.
Halsey assures Lomax and Biggs that Gerber has pulled no-shows before, using his wild adventures to regale his friends later. Unfortunately, Gerber won’t have any more wild adventures. The next morning, his body is discovered stuffed in a trash can in full rigor. Hollywood buzzes with speculation at the latest scandal, a delicious murder.
After Gerber’s body is pried from the trash can, the medical examiner reveals the cause of death, adding yet another twist to an already bizarre murder. Ironically, Lomax and Biggs are assigned the case, their deal officially on life-support. But before they can even interview the appropriate persons of interest, more bodies fall, each somehow connected to the infamous Gerber, all killed in the same mysterious manner.
The two Hollywood wannabees are forced to put their careers on hold and attend the business at hand. Since the deceased are big names, the pressure from the top brass is unremitting, murder and mayhem the talk of the industry. The deaths (a serial killer?) would be depressing if the murdered men weren’t such despicable cads.
Incapable of ignoring a punch line, it is Biggs who lifts the plot from the mundane to the ribald with his running commentary of double entendres and one-liners. Meanwhile, a new suspect and a shocking piece of evidence send Biggs and Lomax scurrying to save at least one intended victim from the determined killer.
Karp’s wry novel is set in a land where dreams are made, peopled by eccentrics, obsessed fans, bigwigs and wannabees. Biggs and Lomax stick to police procedure in a case where everyone harbors a motive and a dream. The wild denouement is truly the stuff of movies.