Book Review: MURDER IS FATAL (Barry Creyton)

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by Tony Frankel on February 5, 2018

in Extras,Film


Author Barry Creyton has proven that film noir doesn’t die; it just goes from black-and-white to color. Part crime story and part love letter, the novel Murder is Fatal is a good-hearted epitome of all things film noir as well as an exaltation to its devotees. Our hero — a knowledgeable, handsome, struggling, young film buff — is a video store owner in the Los Feliz district of modern-day Los Angeles who becomes the detective in his own murder case. Even though he hasn’t harmed a soul, it seems that every thug and bombshell wants something he has, or thinks he’s somebody else. As with every great detective fiction, the clever plot involves onion layers of clues that are deliciously peeled back skin to core, with not one red herring among them.

Among the bold, well-drawn characters, the twisting storyline is rich with gun-toting thugs, oodles of cherchez la femme, and dames who are hard-boiled, duplicitous, and sentimental. With neither Mike Hammer’s cave-man harshness nor Mickey Spillane’s pessimistic outlook, Creyton (adapting from his and Shawn Thompson’s screenplay) articulates genre expertise with fondness and razor-sharp wit, not disparagement or cynicism.

Adding to the fun are dozens and dozens of film references pocking the 181 pages with inside puns about, and paeans for, classic Hollywood noir — with dialogue so vivid that you can easily imagine downward shafts of light peeking through slatted blinds. (“I gave her the once-over. Twice.”) The locale is also a salute to L.A. herself, as this travelogue of speeding cars and sleepy trains takes us from the Hollywood Bowl to downtown to the Queen Mary in Long Beach to Hotel Coronado in San Diego. Be prepared to get hooked after a few chapters; this ripping good read is a killer.

cover art by Dylan J. Hay Chapman

Murder is Fatal
Barry Creyton
Pompeii Productions, Inc. | 181 pages | paperback ($10.99)
available at Amazon

{ 1 comment }

Noeline Brown February 6, 2018 at 3:18 pm

For anyone who really loves the movies, this is a must-read. Barry Creyton has written a delicious novel full of characters familiar to those of us who spent our young lives enjoying great Hollywood movies, before the days of the blockbuster aimed at 11-year-olds. I am eagerly waiting for the sequel. And the FILM.

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