Saturday, June 16, 2012

No Sale-Patrick Conrad

No Sale

Patrick Conrad

Bitter Lemon, May 22 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781904738978

In 1998 Antwerp, Chief Superintendent Fons “The Sponge” Luyckx, and Detective Inspector Lannoy investigate the disappearance of Shelley “Dixie” Cox whose husband Professor Victor Cox teaches the History of Cinema at the Institute of Film and Theatre Studies. They find her battered body by the Bonaparte Dock. She apparently was drunk, got hit by a car, and tossed into the water from the Nassau Bridge. The victim was wearing Hollywood prop jewelry from famous films like This Gun for Hire and Some Like it Hot.

The cops search for the murder vehicle starting with the husband whose car matches a description of the deadly auto and is in the shop for body damage repair. Soon afterward an actress dies of carbon monoxide and other homicides seemingly related to the case follow. Cox’s student Starr Mortenson vanishes while spending the weekend with him; in their room someone wrote "No Sale," from Butterfield 8. Cox is the only connection between some of the murders and the Mortenson’s disappearance.

This is an engaging Belgium police procedural in which classic films play a critical role. Cox makes the storyline work with his commentary on Hollywood including the It Girl and Clint Eastwood that also come across as grandiose delusions so he muddles up the investigation confusing the police (and delightfully the reader too). Although the final reel seems too brusque, fans will enjoy this wonderful whodunit that pays homage to great 1940s and 1950s movies.

Harriet Klausner

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