1986. Donald Westlake writing as Sam Holt, a protected pen-name.
For five years, Holt, a former police detective, stars in a TV series about a criminology professor and sometime private eye. After the series is cancelled, new roles are hard to find. Holt’s too identified with his successful TV character. We’ve all had that problem, right?
Holt is almost murdered one day while driving on the San Diego Freeway. One thing leads to another and the actor playing the private eye is soon using his policing skills and notoriety to find out who tried to kill him and why.
Of course he’s loaded: big house, bicoastal-life style, celebrity status, lotsa friends in the biz. All these elements converge in a fast-paced thriller that feels more like TV show than book rack potboiler. There were times I raced ahead just to keep going to the decent ending, but all in all a fun quick read.
As a character, Holt is eighties sass from when he was spawned. Bad guys are dark and swarthy. Women are savvy and willing. The solution to the mystery hides in plain sight – is that a spoiler? – nah. There’s so much in plain sight that you’ll still have to figure it out.