It is always a pleasure to pick up a new mystery and find out: a) that the book is written in the first person, and b) that it's situated in Los Angeles, where all good murder mysteries should be set. The Wicked and the Dead by BookPage columnist Robert Weibezahl finds struggling screenwriter Billy Winnetka embroiled in an inquiry into the death of a prominent cinema producer. As the story unfolds, it turns out that several of the major players in a controversial religious movie have met accidental deaths in recent months, and Billy takes it upon himself to do a bit of discreet investigation. The suspects abound: a nutball zealot religious leader (or one of his flock); the body-building gay lover of one of the major characters; the unpleasant (and quite possibly corrupt) cop. Weibezahl worked in film production for a number of years and it shows in his writing; he offers his readers a vivid insider's look at the Hollywood machine. Winnetka is an engaging sort, a competent screenwriter wryly disillusioned by the lack of respect accorded to his profession. We look forward to reading his further adventures.
The Wicked and the Dead is Weibezahl's first novel, but it is not his first foray into the genre: he has been an Agatha and Macavity Award finalist for his role as editor of A Taste of Murder and A Second Helping of Murder.