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Shoot: 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

Shoot is the fourth of Loren D. Estleman's mysteries set in historical Hollywood and starring UCLA film archivist/film investigator Valentino.

Valentino lives in a classic motion-picture palace, The Oracle. Its renovation consumes his earnings and more. He's content in his relationship with LAPD forensic scientist Harriet and is mentored by his UCLA boss, professor Kyle Broadhead who's engaged to their mutual friend, Fanta, a much younger law student.

Shoot opens as Valentino and Harriet attend a closing party for the Red Montana and Dixie Day museum (think Roy Rogers/Dale Evans). Dixie is dying of cancer and Red selling up to raise money for cancer research. He takes Valentino aside at the event and makes an offer he finds hard to refuse.

Red is being blackmailed by someone who claims to have in their possession a shocking film from early in Dixie's career. If Valentino can find that movie, Red will give him his lost film, Sixgun Sonata. If not, he'll burn it. Valentino starts digging, though with mixed feelings - that worsen as he learns more about his idol.

As often happens, Teddie Goodman (who 'would stop at nothing, including seduction, to procure lost film footage for her boss') is entangled in the investigation, but they actually work together (if briefly) this time. And though Valentino does get his film can, he loses something along the way.

As a long time fan of John Ford Westerns, I especially enjoyed this homage to the genre - as Estleman tells us in his Closing Credits, 'Western culture is defined by the culture of the western.' Don't miss Shoot!

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