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Brazen: A Valentino Mystery    by Loren D. Estleman order for
by Loren D. Estleman
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Brazen is the fifth of Loren D. Estleman's mysteries set in historical Hollywood and starring UCLA film archivist and occasional investigator Valentino. He doesn't really believe there's a curse involving the deaths of Hollywood blond bombshells (think Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Sharon Tate), but then the re-enactments begin - is a serial killer on the loose?

Valentino's discovery of the first corpse - his elderly friend, former actress Beata Limerick displayed as Marilyn Monroe's body was discovered - makes him an immediate suspect, but fortunately he has an alibi. Nevertheless tough police lieutenant Ray Padilla keeps Valentino involved - he knows his stuff when it comes to films and Hollywood, making him a useful resource.

As the case progresses, and the corpses pile up, Valentino continues to pour his scarce funds into renovating The Oracle, the classic motion-picture palace he calls home. He's happy in his romance with Harriet Johansen and they both hang out with his UCLA boss, professor Kyle Broadhead, who is soon getting hitched to their mutual friend, Fanta, despite a substantial age difference.

As always, Valentino helps the cops get their man (in Estleman's usual hard-boiled, humorous style) but the fun is in the journey there and the context, which film buffs will devour. Note that this prolific author also writes the Amos Walker, Peter Macklin, Page Murdock and Detroit Crime series as well as many other novels.

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