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Alive! (Valentino Mystery) Hardcover – April 2, 2013


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Alive! (Valentino Mystery) + Alone (Valentino Mysteries) + Valentino: Film Detective
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Product Details

  • Series: Valentino Mystery (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; First Edition first Printing edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765333317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765333315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The third in Estleman’s always-entertaining series starring film archivist Valentino again delivers a delightful mix of comedy, mystery, and movie history. This time the archival jewel that inspires murder and puts Valentino in hot water is a long-lost screen test of Bela Lugosi trying out for the role of Frankensteins monster that would eventually go to Boris Karloff. A down-and-out actor and onetime friend of Valentino’s was trying to peddle the screen test before he was murdered. The cops like Valentino for the crime, leaving Val no choice but to find the Lugosi snippet and clear himself. The backstory on Legosi, Karloff, and the horror-movie genre in general will have film fans salivating, and, as always, Estleman seamlessly incorporates the movie bits into the mystery plot. And, for good measure, this time he throws in—equally seamlessly—a subplot involving a gaggle of steampunkers who come to Val’s aid in the hunt for the screen test. Great fun on multiple fronts. --Bill Ott

Review

“Shamus-winner Estleman's captivating second mystery to feature L.A. film detective Valentino. Readers will eagerly turn the pages.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review on Alone

Frames melds Estleman’s love of movies with his gift for swift, satisfying storytelling.”
San Francisco Chronicle
            
“Great cast, great subject, flawless delivery from a real pro.”
Booklist starred review on Frames
            
Frames is gripping entertainment. If you love movies, you'll love this mystery.”
—Lawrence Kasdan, Oscar Award-nominee  
                 
“Estleman has scripted yet another wacky comedic mystery. His snappy dialog, feisty characters, Hollywood lore, and gentle romance make this his funniest to date.”
Library Journal on Frames

“Estleman has laid claim to a fresh new franchise and the turf is all his. My hat’s off to him.”
—Sue Grafton, New York Times #1 bestselling author on Frames


More About the Author

Loren D. Estleman graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Journalism. In 2002, his alma mater presented him with an honorary doctorate in letters. He left the job market in 1980 to write full time, after a few years spent "pounding out beat-the-train journalism" during his day job as a reporter before going home and writing fiction at night.

His first novel was published in 1976, and has been followed by more than 70 books and hundreds of short stories and articles. His series include novels about Detroit detective Amos Walker, professional killer Peter Macklin, L.A. film detective and amateur sleuth Valentino, and the Detroit crime series. On the western side is the U.S. Deputy Marshal Page Murdock series. Additionally, he's written dozens of stand-alone novels.

His books have been translated into 27 languages and have won multiple Shamus, Spur, Western Heritage, and Stirrup awards. He has been nominated for the National Book Award and the Edgar Allan Poe Award. In 2012, the Western Writers of America honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

He lives in Michigan and is married to writer Deborah Morgan. Find out more about Estleman and his books on his website: lorenestleman.com

Customer Reviews

I got the book right before the weekend and just bulldozed right through it all weekend.
MemphisBookGuy
Enthusiasts of early Hollywood films and stars will enjoy this mystery series written by long-time author Loren Estleman.
Quixote010
And even if not-- it's a tantalizing mystery full of interesting lore, great humor, romance, and bittersweet nostalgia.
Charlotte Harley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RJPetyo on June 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Film Detective" Valentino, who searches for rare movie footage for the UCLA film department, is contacted by Craig Hunter, a former friend and one time actor. Valentino hangs up on him because he is tired of being hit up for money by Hunter who has become a bit of a derelict. But when Hunter ends up murdered, Valentino learns that he had planned to offer him rare footage of a screen test of Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein's monster, the part that eventually went to Boris Karloff. Valentino wants to solve the murder, partly to avenge Hunter, and partly to keep the film footage out of the hands of the police department who, if they seized it as evidence, would not properly preserve the fragile film stock.

His investigation leads him to Hunter's widow, a gangster and his mouthpiece lawyer, a horror movie magazine publisher, a competing rare film archivist, and others.

The banter between Valentino's co-workers/investigators, Kyle Brodhead, college assistant Fanta, and--new to the team--Jason Stickely is light-hearted, an attempt at a screwball comedy out of the thirties and forties. Unfortunately, the dialogue just doesn't ring true, nor is it that funny. The mystery is adequately handled, with a few twists and turns, but the novel goes on too many pages past the resolution of the mystery. These people just aren't that interesting.

What is interesting is the background of old Hollywood movies. This series is for movie buffs, which is what kept me reading. I am fascinated with the history of old movies. To me, the scene in a wax museum that depicted famous movie scenes was a gem.

If you like old movies, this is a good read; if you don't, it's a so-so mystery.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MemphisBookGuy on April 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the best book yet in the series. If you haven't read the first two run out and get them. But I thought they more or less complimented each other so you can start right here if you want. The Hollywood lore is fun but the best part are the characters and the story - really pulls you along. I got the book right before the weekend and just bulldozed right through it all weekend.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loren D. Estleman has been known for hard-boiled detective stories for quite some time, but his stories and novels featuring the character Valentino, finder of lost films, have a wonderful new quality that make them a brand new sub-genre of detective stories. If you are a film buff with a knowledge of old films and old Hollywood, there are wonderful multiple levels of fun here. Estleman gives us enough true background in film preservation, like the crumbling, and explosive qualities of old cellulose nitrate fim stock to understand the urgency of finding old films, enough true background in Hollywood history to be fascinated by the odd workings and personalities of the old studio systems, and lots of fictional characters, that if you know some modern Hollywood truths, are not as entirely fictional as you might at first think. All this truth coupled with his usual very well designed purely fictional characters and plotlines give us a book that is surprisingly fascinating and fun. if you love mysteries, but think film preservation sounds like a weird, possibly dry subject for a whodunit, you are severely underestimating Mr. Estleman's storytelling abilities. This book is a hoot.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was introduced to this character in the volume of short stories which I enjoyed. I also enjoyed this book but think 3 stars is enough. I think the reason is I have never connected with the protagonist. I don't like him or dislike him. He is just kind of blah. The same goes for the secondary characters. In this book the really minor characters like the steampunk gang or the hoods have the most personalities but they come and go quickly. The story about trying to find a lost audition reel is interesting enough. I am no old film maven but know enough about them to get the author's references. I just come away with the idea that the series could have been great not just good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A friend of Valentino’s, washed up action film star Craig Hunter, is found beaten to death in a known mobster’s bar. The last person he phoned was Valentino. Val goes to comfort Hunter’s grieving ex-wife and finds a case full of books about Universal monster movies. The amateur detective and film preservationist discovers that Hunter was trying to broker a deal for a long lost screen test for Frankenstein. Universal had wanted the iconic monster to be played by there then reigning horror film star Bela Lugosi. The screen test was so awful that the studio ordered it burned. Was the film saved from destruction and if so is it valuable enough that someone would kill for it?

This is the third book in the Valentino series. I like reading this series because of the film history. Estleman did a lot of research for this novel and included a bibliography of resources at the end.

One of the characters in this installment is a young man who is part of the steampunk movement. The author writes about the clothes, music, and basic esthetics of steampunk. It fits in well with the Frankenstein theme of the book.

Like all of the books in this series, it is an enjoyable read that I recommend to anyone interested in classic movies and likes a good mystery.
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