Please welcome guest Robert Weibezahl and his Hollywood thriller, sitting in for Auntie M at Bouchercon this week~
The Dead Don’t Forget
There has been a few year’s hiatus between the publication of my first crime novel, The Wicked and the Dead, and my new one, The Dead Don’t Forget. Both feature the amateur sleuth Billy Winnetka, whose day job is screenwriting, so it should be no surprise that the books are set in Los Angeles amid the business of filmmaking.
But rather than tap into a world saturated by TMZ, paparazzi, and celebrity tweets, my books try to capture the experience of Hollywood’s ordinary working stiffs – how the other half (or 90 percent) lives, if you will.
That said, there is a bit of glamour in The Dead Don’t Forget, albeit faded with time. At the mystery’s center is Gwendolyn Barlow, a once huge but mostly forgotten film star living out her final years in her now shabby mansion.
Billy meets Gwendolyn when he is corralled by his old friend, Grace, into attending a lifetime achievement award ceremony in Gwendolyn’s honor. What should have been a one-night encounter turns into a full-time job for Billy when the old woman reports that she has been receiving anonymous phone calls threatening her with death.
Ever curious, if equally reluctant, Billy is soon investigating the source of those calls and the more serious life-threatening events that begin to unfold.
In the course of his investigation, Billy compiles an ever-mounting list of suspects. Who knew that an old, forgotten silent screen actress could have antagonized so many people?
He also meets Gwendolyn’s lawyer, Kate Hennessey, and romance blooms (complicating his already complicated lingering attachment to his ex-wife, Rae).
Meanwhile, one of Billy’s screenplays is in production, being directed by an egotistical neophyte. One crisis after another on the set threatens to shut the film down, and in true Hollywood fashion, the wrong heads roll.
The Dead Don’t Forget, like The Wicked and the Dead before it, is entirely a work of fiction, but having worked for a time in film production, I hope I am able to bring some measure of verisimilitude to my depiction of the movie industry. A bit cynical, but fundamentally genuine, Billy provides an unfiltered lens through which to view this singular, eccentric world.
The screenwriter William Goldman famously wrote, “In Hollywood, no one knows anything.” Well, Billy wouldn’t argue the basic truth of that quote, but he’s learned a thing or two. If only someone would listen.
Having worked in the publishing and film businesses for more than a quarter century, Robert Weibezahl has a broad range of credits. A columnist for BookPage since 2002, his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Reader, Ventura County Star, Mystery Readers Journal, Bikini, Irish America, and many other national and regional publications.
His two literary cookbooks/anthologies—A Taste of Murder and A Second Helping of Murder—co-edited with Jo Grossman, were both finalists for the Agatha and Macavity Awards.
His short fiction has appeared in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, CrimeSpree, Mouth Full of Bullets, Beat to a Pulp, and the anthology, Deadly by the Dozen, and he was a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2010 Derringer Award.
Visit him at http://www.RobertWeibezahl.com.