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Burning Garbo: A Nina Zero Novel (Nina Zero Novels) Hardcover – September 23, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lurking on a Malibu hillslope, hoping to catch a shot of film legend Angela Doubleday--who hasn’t been seen in public since a stalker died in her embrace a decade ago--isn’t exactly the way Nina Zero dreamed of spending her 30th birthday. But, as Robert Eversz makes clear in Burning Garbo, this baby photographer-turned-ex-con paparazza can't be overly choosy about her assignments these days. She just didn't expect this one to result in her being attacked by a wild-eyed stranger, then left unconscious as a brushfire consumes the Doubleday estate--and almost her, in the bargain.

Now, under suspicion for both arson and the reclusive actress's murder, Nina can only hope to prove someone else guilty of these crimes. Perhaps the guy who assaulted her, or the George Clooney-lookalike she spotted at Doubleday's place right before the blaze, or the late star's obsequious chauffeur, who may know more about his employer's assets than her accountant did. Not above reproach, either, is Doubleday's principal heir, a previously luckless niece who isn't as immune to avarice as Nina had supposed. With her black dye job and nose stud, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Duluth--the result of an abusive childhood and her misadventures in two previous novels, Shooting Elvis and Killing Paparazzi--Nina Zero isn't the warmest or most well-adjusted fictional protagonist around. ("I'm running from a lot of things," she tells her parole officer. "But I'm not fast enough. Things are catching up.") Yet she's persistent, and with some help from a toothless Rottweiler, a resourceful tabloid reporter, and an unconventional father figure in the form of a retired cop, she just might figure out who did in the "miserable" Doubleday (if she's dead at all), without winding up either back in the slammer or crushed inside a tumbling trailer home.

Less sharp-edged than Killing Paparazzi, Burning Garbo is as much a cleverly constructed mystery as it is a continuation of Nina Zero's search for self-identity. Although the case here is solved with somewhat dubious brilliance, and an extended foray into L.A.'s jail system distracts from the plot's arc, Nina's brassy irreverence and Eversz's taste for savaging the more eccentric elements of Southern California culture make a combustible storytelling combination. --J. Kingston Pierce

From Publishers Weekly

Falsely accused of arson and murder, Eversz's series hero Nina Zero (Shooting Elvis; Killing Paparazzi) gets herself into more trouble than ever in this new installment. Formerly Mary Alice Baker, a children's photographer who landed in prison, upon parole she morphed into exotic Nina Zero, a celebrity paparazza for Scandal Times in L.A. While trying to take pictures of the reclusive retired movie star Angela Doubleday, Nina sees Doubleday's Malibu mansion go up in flames, is shot at by a strange man and finds herself adopted by a lovable, toothless rottweiler. When a vicious arson investigator blames Nina for the fire and-after human bones are discovered in the ashes-murder, she must prove her innocence. Along the way she befriends Angela's niece, Arlanda Cortes; Angela's godfather, Ben Turner; and a retired sheriff's deputy; she also meets a host of suspicious characters, including two brothers with a dark past who are also after Nina. Eversz noirishly evokes Southern California-"Los Angeles is a city where people move to become someone they imagine themselves to be but aren't yet and most likely never will be"-and, despite frantic pacing and a convoluted plot, creates colorful, well-rounded characters. With plenty of celebrity satire and an ending that confounds expectations, this is a rollicking ride.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Nina Zero Novels
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743250133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743250139
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,276,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While this is an intriguing noir read and Nina Zero remains such a wonderful character, it's not able to scale the heights of the first book in the series, Shooting Elvis, which I do highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
Nina Zero, on parole after imprisonment for a (justified) manslaughter -- for the details of which you need to read the previous two novels -- is trying hard to stay straight and make a living as a paparazza for a Los Angeles tabloid, but by now there's virtually none of the original good-girl Mary Alice Baker left. Deep down, she's a good person, but she's also quite capable of dealing with the county slammer when she gets picked up "on suspicion" (which happens to parolees on a regular basis). The first novel, _Shooting Elvis,_ was very, very good as a character study; the second one, _Killing Paparazzi,_ was okay but more of a straight detective story. This third installment sports the brand label "A Nino Zero Novel" on the front cover, which is not a good sign. The plot revolves around the death by arson of a reclusive movie star in the Malibu hills, which the cops like Nina for, since she was conveniently present. The deceased actress's estranged neice and sort-of stepfather (himself a crusty retired cop who takes a shine to Nina) want to find out whodunit and Nina, with the help of her equally crusty editor boss, needs to clear herself in order to stay on the outside. The action is complicated by additional deaths, but the real interest here is in the way Eversz draws his characters -- not only Nina but all the supporting cast. I had my doubts before whether this could survive as a series, and I still have them, but Nina is a fascinating portrait and I'll keep reading.
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Format: Paperback
This is Eversz' third book in the "noir punk" Nina Zero series. The hero, Nina, is a sardonic, violent loser who has a serious problem with authority or any type of oppression. That's why she is so likeable. She goes too far in resisting attempts by bad guys to dominate, but she always has justification.

Nina always seems to stumble onto nasty conspiracies and corruption, which she investigates with tenacity. Her range of emotions is limited, blunted by her years in prison and betrayal by her family and friends. Still she is able to demonstrate loyalty to her dog which somehow buys her some points with her parole officer.

This is a quick read which may spoil you for more conventional detective mystery characters. I suggest starting from the beginning to see the development of this character's major "chip on the shoulder".
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By A Customer on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Paparazzi Nina Zero needs a break to change her finances that live up to her name. She decides to make one for herself by photographing the Hollywood legendary recluse, Angela Doubleday. A picture of Angela goes for about $50K and Nina plans to obtain that cash.
Nina heads to the Malibu Hills and climbs a barrier to gain entrance to the Doubleday estate. Almost immediately, a man assaults her knocking her out and destroying her camera. When she regains consciousness, Nina sees that the Doubleday house is on fire and the cops and an arson investigator want to question her as the torch suspect. Nina flees the scene anyway knowing that her parole (see manslaughter in KILLING PAPARAZZI) is shaky and only she has reason to prove her innocence. When a burned to the crisp humans remains are found, Nina knows that she better leave no doubt to her innocence with her only ally Dog the toothless Rottweiler.
The third Zero novel is an exciting Hollywood tale that crime thriller fans will enjoy though not as out of the box as Nina's previous excellent adventures. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as Nina watches her world spin out of control, but refuses to idly wait for the big crunch. Nina remains a strong protagonist, but her fans anticipating the unexpected will find BURNING GARBO a well written sleuthing 101 tale.
Harriet Klausner
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