Review by Paul Burke

Publisher: Stark House Press  14th July 2021

ISBN 978-1951473372                 PB

The old adage says “grab the reader’s attention in the first couple of sentences”, but that’s harder than it sounds, it happens one in twenty if you’re lucky. For me Straight Dope nails it!

This is Bobby’s town but LA is not the capital of sunshine and glamour in his eyes: ‘For years the forecast had been “No”. No and windy, no and cloudy, no with a chance of showers.’ This city is a place ‘made of crumbling clay and whatever you can get away with, and for awhile, I got away with it all.’

Bobby is broke, down on his luck and not enjoying his six dollar artisan coffee but keeping up appearances, as all self respecting out-of-work actors or writers do. When his mobile rings it’s a blast from the past: Angie English calling him sweetie and inviting him up to Malibu.

Angie tells Bobby that her sister Carla is dead.  Carla was a long time junkie, this end was pretty inevitable but Angie wants Bobby to look into it. His qualms about being a screenwriter, not a detective, vanish when there’s $5,000 on the table. He can hardly wait to get the bank to cash the advance cheque. So what’s Angie looking for? Carla had a wallet, in it was their mother’s engagement ring, a family heirloom. She wants Bobby to find the boyfriend and get the ring.

A violent, at times wicked funny, odyssey follows.  The serious side to the novel highlights the dark desperate world of the junkie – painful, neglected and hopeless, but it’s more about the mystery. . Swerdlow has an eye for a turn of phrase, sharp dialogue and stinging caustic wit, and enjoys lampooning Hollywood. Swerdlow is also an actor and screen writer who co-wrote Cool Runnings and directed A Thousand Junkies in 2017.