Dunne, Apr 2008, $23.95
San Francisco Bulletin film critic (and one book author with a few sales to his mom) Carroll Quint receives a call from his mother, retired two bit actress Karen Kass. Her Hollywood roommate Ulla Kjeldson apparently committed suicide in Sausalito; she knew the Norwegian born Ulla as Vicky Vandamn and does not believe her friend whom she lost touch with would kill herself. Karen demands Carroll investigate a homicide that the lazy police call suicide so they can avoid an inquiry.
Just after the mom call, the newspaper’s editor Katherine “The Great” Parkham, who knows Carroll is a super card player (thanks to his maternal “Uncle Crime”) asks Carroll to prove that Charlie Talbot, son of ruthless Sir Charles, is cheating in their friendly poker game. He will play with them at the Talbot estate. Also going to a gala there is the paper’s art critic and Carroll’s on and off girlfriend Terry Greco who is working a Talbot museum exhibition.
At cards he catches how Charlie cheats, which does not endear him to the punk. On the Vicky front, he seeks a manuscript called Payback that she was writing while he receives “help” from Della the psychic, Bert the peaking Tom, Freeze the retired Noir cop, Sir Charles’ fifth trophy wife Erica and of course Terry. However, the murder of art curator Ron Maleuw occurs; tying the two cases together with him in the middle holding jokers.
STILL SHOT pays homage to the tough screen sleuths like Marlowe and Spade (Carroll’s first tale JIGSAW revered Hitchcock). Yet even with this adulation this remains a tongue in cheek “Hollywood” Noir that takes place approximately four hundred miles to the north in the Bay Area and Marin County. The story line is fun to follow as Carroll disproves Sir Charles’ first assessment that he is a “barmeake”; keep in mind the source of calling him an a-hole British slang is a guy who burned an original Matisse.