Screenwriter and reluctant sleuth Billy Winnetka returns for an encore performance in Robert Weibezahl’s latest “Hollywood and Crime” mystery, The Dead Don’t Forget. Billy spins the tale in the first person, with an amused world-weariness born and nurtured in the movie industry.
Summoned to the stately Hancock Park home of faded film star Gwendolyn Barlow, Billy allows himself to be coaxed into a couple of things he typically tries to avoid: a bit of detective work (in this case, looking into the threatening phone calls Barlow claims to have received over the past several months); and reading someone else’s movie script (in this case, Barlow’s original piece, A Ladder to Paradise, penned some 50 years before).“Just what Hollywood needed. A World War II romance written during World War II. Picture trying to pitch that to a young studio executive who probably didn’t even know they made movies before Star Wars.” The script turns out not to be where Gwendolyn left it, however; in its place, in the original faded manila envelope, is a red-stained paper, on which is scrawled “Hurry Up and Die . . .”
Is this on the level, or simply the melodramatic antics of a one-time star too long out of the spotlight? Billy Winnetka will find out soon enough, but not soon enough to prevent a murder. The Dead Don’t Forget is one of those rare second books of a series that outshines its predecessor; looking forward to installment number three!
Note: As faithful BookPage readers might have recognized, Robert Weibezahl is a fellow BookPage columnist; that said, if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed The Dead Don’t Forget, I would have politely declined the opportunity to review it!