Loser's Town
Daniel Depp
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Buy *Loser's Town: A David Spandau Novel* by Daniel Depp online

Loser's Town: A David Spandau Novel
Daniel Depp
Simon & Schuster
304 pages
July 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Skewering the perpetual Hollywood movie machine, this deftly plotted and starkly irreverent tale introduces washed-up stuntman turned private investigator David Spandau. He's been called upon to investigate the mysterious blackmailing of Bobby Dye, a hot young actor who's been skirting the edges of mega-stardom. Lately David’s life has been filled with discontent, seeking comfort in booze and lamenting the end of his marriage to Dee, the one relationship that served as his emotional support.

Complete with “broken nose and tired eyes,” David is forced to cut his vacation two days short when he’s summoned to the Beverly Hills office of his boss, Walter Coren. Walter, “one of the best kept secrets in LA society.” tells David that he’s been expressly requested to assist in Bobby’s case. David, however, must be discreet. There’s a lot at stake here: all of “the suits” are in total agreement that Bobby is poised to hit the big time for his current starring role in the film Wildfire.

But a dark secret threatens to derail Bobby’s rise in the form of a death threat on a sheet of paper with a message in cutout letters glued onto it: “You’re going to Die, Dye!” While Bobby is truly flummoxed at the note, suspecting it could be a pissed-off boyfriend of one of his glamorous muses, David is positive that the threat is somehow linked to the evil machinations of drug king Ritchie Stella, a razor-sharp local crime lord.

Owner of the notorious Voodoo Club on Sunset Strip, Ritchie desperately wants to be a movie producer and wants Bobby for one of his movies. The script is substandard, and Bobby is resisting. Ritchie isn't above blackmailing Bobby with a series of incriminating photos. When the neurotic Bobby threatens to go ballistic, jeopardizing the shooting schedule of his current film, David brings in his best friend, Irishman Terry McGuinn, to go undercover, mining Ritchie’s employee Allison Graff for information on Ritche’s illegal maneuverings and any possible evidence that might connect Ritchie to Bobby.

Meanwhile, the author’s other flawed protagonist, Potts, along with the huge, pale, dumb Squires, is hired to clean up Bobby’s mess - an underage junkie girl with a needle in her arm found in the bathroom of Bobby’s palatial glass-fronted Hollywood hilltop mansion. Potts is not without his own demons; having spent five years in a Texas prison, the man is mired in the burdens of self-deception, his fractured life so overwhelming that nothing seems to be able to dispel it.

Tossed out and spun around by the vast Hollywood machine, Daniel Depp’s characters are mostly emotional and spiritual wrecks, with powerful Ritchie Stella doing his evil best to manipulate them. Ultimately, it is David’s investigations that uncover Stella’s ambitious connection to Mafia boss Salvatore Locatelli. Although Ritchie works for Locatelli and is under his protection, both have jockeyed themselves into a fairly lucrative relationship involving drugs and organized crime. Consequently, Sal now seems to own Los Angeles “lock, stock and stinking barrel.”

Depp writes with a kinetic vitality, with bitchy dialogue that crackles atop the page while the stifling heat of a Los Angeles summer shimmers and wavers, the western horizon turning a lovely but unnatural smoggy orange. All the while, Depp’s city continues to glide past like an overexposed film. As disaster draws tight around Terry and David, the author portrays a vibrant yet darkly menacing city, where the innocent are sacrificed and wannabe actors always get their way, and where dreams are made then ominously broken.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Michael Leonard, 2009

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