Bela Lugosi’s Frankenstein screen test puts Valentino in the picture for murder
Everyone knows the Frankenstein monster was played by Boris Karloff. His portrayal is so famous that the play Arsenic and Old Lace was filled with Karloff/monster jokes—even when the part of the monstrously deformed villain was played by another actor. But before Karloff's memorable portrayal, another famous 1930s Hollywood icon, Bela Lugosi, tested for the part of the monster.
The screen test footage was lost for decades, until Valentino, that never-say-die film archivist, gets a hot tip about the whereabouts of the incriminating (for really bad, heavily accented acting) footage. But it comes with a price far greater than the money he'll have to pay. Someone would kill to get that reel of film, and that makes Valentino a mortal obstacle who would rather not die for art. People have already been murdered for the film, and Val doesn’t want to push his luck…but boy, that reel is too good to let go….
Enter a crew of steampunk fans. Loving the arcane strangeness that is Valentino’s life—not to mention the completely glam prospect of seeing the original filmic Count Dracula as the Frankenstein monster—they will find a way to save Valentino and Lugosi's infamous screen test. Or if they can’t do that, have a great party anyway. Val just hopes it's not a wake.…
In Alive!, Loren D. Estleman delivers a mystery that only he can.