Review: UCLA film archivist Valentino and his girlfriend Harriet have been invited to the closing party for the Red Montana and Dixie Day Museum when Red Montana himself approaches him, with a favor to ask, in Shoot, the fourth mystery in this series by Loren D. Estleman.
Montana was — and still is — a popular western movie and television star, and one of Valentino's idols as a boy. Knowing Valentino's reputation as a sort of film detective, Montana wants Valentino to track down a person, who is blackmailing him. Many years ago, Montana's wife, Dixie Day, made a stag film before becoming popular as the wholesome "Sweetheart of the Range". Dixie is now dying of cancer, and Montana wants to spare her the embarrassment of the public seeing this old film. Montana makes a deal with Valentino: if he finds the blackmailer and is able to destroy the film reel, Montana will give to Valentino his own "lost" film, Sixgun Sonata, the first to feature Montana and Dixie together, of which he has the only copy. If, however, Valentino cannot find the blackmailer, or refuses the deal, Montana will destroy his own film. Valentino desperately wants to save this lost treasure, and has no choice but to accept Montana's offer.
Valentino manages to locate the son of the now long dead stag film photographer, and while the son knew his father filmed pornography, he had no idea that there was one featuring Dixie Day. And even if he did, he wouldn't know where the "Dixie" film might be. And the trail runs cold there for Valentino. Maybe the film doesn't exist, and the blackmailer has nothing to back up his threat? Valentino isn't sure what to do, but he cannot let Red Montana destroy a piece of film history.
Readers old enough to remember the early western movies and Saturday morning television series of Lone Ranger and Tonto, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry, and the like, will definitely enjoy this step back in time here. Younger readers may also appreciate how important this kind of entertainment was before the age of streaming and digital downloads. The mystery is a little thin, but the overall story is cleverly developed, often humorous, and above all, quite entertaining.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Shoot.
Acknowledgment: Macmillan provided a copy of Shoot for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Mysterious Press (eBook), March 2013
ISBN-13: 9781480404304; ISBN-10: 1480404306
Location(s) referenced in Shoot: Los Angeles
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Shoot by Loren D. Estleman — A Valentino Mystery
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: February 2016
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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