- Series: Dead Letter Mysteries
- Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312964749
- ISBN-13: 978-0312964740
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,284,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Death of Frank Sinatra: A Mystery (Dead Letter Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – October, 1997
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It's 1993 in Las Vegas. They're about to blow up the historic Dunes Hotel to make room for some new architectural marvel; Frank Sinatra is making his last appearance at the Desert Inn; and private eye Mike Rose is trying to keep himself and his delusional brother Alvi alive. In this tremendous new mystery from veteran L.A. Weekly columnist Ventura, the emotional geography of Vegas comes to life as never before. Rose's parents were connected to some of the the city's darkest hours. Now, to pay off old debts and protect fragile friends, he has to shed some blood and look under some nasty rocks. Sinatra, of course, doesn't die -- but lots of other people do. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The Chairman of the Board acts as both metaphor and player in Ventura's intense, dark-hued new novel (after The Zoo Where You're Fed to God). Small-time Las Vegas PI Michael Rose is the son of an old-time Sicilian Mafia enforcer who mysteriously disappeared shortly after John F. Kennedy's assassination. When Rose takes a case involving a woman hell-bent on killing her husband, he follows in his father's footsteps by finding himself on a Mafia hit list?because his schizophrenic brother has asked a seemingly innocent question in the club owned by one of their father's fellow assassins, a longtime family friend. The action intensifies with a confrontation during a Desert Inn concert by the ancient Sinatra. Lust, betrayal, murder and hints of far-reaching political machinations run rampant as Rose is forced to become a ruthless predator and the suspense builds to a nail-biting conclusion. Ventura ably captures the contrasts among the sun-splashed, forbidding desert outside Vegas, the shabbiness of the daylight city and the neon-lit nighttime surrealism of a place where there are no clocks and no one sleeps. The impending demolition of the landmark Dunes hotel to clear the way for a new generation of bigger and better casinos is typical of the brooding symbolism he employs to highlight the vanity and transience of materialism. Ventura vivifies the myth of Vegas here, inducing a sense of a place that is its own reality as he offers a chilling look at the influence of organized crime in today's Sodom and Gomorrah. Rights (except electronic): Melanie Jackson.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Here is the crux of the novel which centers on a private eye who has bathed with and been raised by mobsters but has remained on the edge of the precipice without ever truly jumping in. It is an intriguing dilemma when his unstable brother unwittingly blabs "too much" in front of a grizzled old Outfit veteran, although as with most of the book what is spoken is half said, a half truth and, well, to be blunt, only half convincing. It's all well and good having the circle of insecurity forever turning in one's head, but surely no group of people are as instantly tuned in as Ventura's characters are. It seems half the time that, whoever it is, they are inexplicably able to read their conversation partner's mind, irrespective of intelligence, age or familiarity. What we get is a series of unfinished statements and knowing glances, which doesn't quite wash.
At first, I thought the insight into Vegas, spearheaded by the persona and rep of Frank Sinatra - a nifty touch - was about as illuminating as a travel guide, but without really being conscious of it, the constant bombardment and repetition of the town's warts and all, became quite intoxicating and ultimately revealing. I was less convinced by the insider knowledge of the mob, which seemed to focus on shock value and sensationalism, in marked contrast to the understatement of the book's overall tone. The little nuances that are so prevalent in Scorsese's films, for example, that help to humanize and rationalize are absent for the most part here.
The plot is convoluted and difficult to grasp with several intertwining threads that don't really mesh. However, in truth, most of the action happens in Rose's head, so that's not as disastrous as it sounds. Still, there seemed to be several loose ends that Ventura was content to let lie, which was a little unsettling.
Overall, I felt it was indulgent and melodramatic, teetering on the edge between dark social commentary about an inately corrupt city, and simply incoherent rambling, but the well expressed sadness and stolid, if misguided defiance of the central character, along with the admitted originality of the style was enough to earn 3 stars. Just.