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Still Shot    by Jerry Kennealy order for
Still Shot
by Jerry Kennealy
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In Still Shot, another delightful mystery from Jerry Kennealy, the accomplished author of nineteen previous novels, newspaper journalist Carroll Quint embarks on an entertaining romp through the singular world of Hollywood and California personalities.

Working as a reviewer of movies and plays for the San Francisco Bulletin, Quint - as the story begins - finds himself taking on a unique assignment from Katherine Parkham, his intimidating editor-in-chief: Quint is to simply sit in on one of Parkham's high-stakes poker games and determine whether or not (and how) one of the regular players is a cheater at cards as she and the other players suspect. All of that seems easy enough to Quint who has impressive skills as a poker player. However, the risky assignment is complicated by the fact that the suspected cheater is the ne'er-do-well son of Sir Charles Talbot, a business tycoon whose past ventures included a Hollywood movie studio and whose future ventures may include the purchase and takeover of the San Francisco Bulletin. So, in addition to making an enemy of the Talbot family, Quint will run the risk of ruining his employment prospects at the newspaper.

Then, at about the same time, Quint's mother - Karen Kass, a former Hollywood movie actress - learns that Ulla Kjeldsen (a.k.a, Vicky Vandamn), a former acquaintance of hers, has died of an apparent suicide according to police and medical reports. Quint's mother is certain that it could not have been suicide but must have been murder, so she calls upon her son: 'I want you to find out who killed her.' And to further entice Quint into the role of amateur sleuth, she reminds him that the case will yield wonderful material for a new book; Quint's previous book, a retrospective on Hollywood's film noir period of the 1940s, failed to impress Quint's literary agent who had urged, 'Sex, drugs, orgies, incest, murder, all that staff the stars were involved in, Quint. That's what the public wants - not reviews of old movies!'

So, with his agent's advice still on his mind and with his mother's insistence leaving him no choice, Quint begins digging into the truth about what happened to the late Ulla Kjeldsen (a.k.a. Vicky Vandamn). And what Quint discovers - much to his surprise - is much of what his agent had insisted on for the next book and what his mother had suspected in her friend's death. Quint discovers also that amateur sleuthing can be extremely dangerous - especially when the trail to the truth leads back to more than a few unsavory, ruthless, and murderous characters, including some in the Talbot family and their convoluted network of friends and enemies.

Intriguing, hard-boiled, fast-paced, and humorous, Still Shot is great fun. Don't miss it!

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