- Series: A Junior Bender Mystery (Book 3)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Soho Crime; 1st Edition edition (July 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616952806
- ISBN-13: 978-1616952808
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fame Thief (A Junior Bender Mystery) Hardcover – July 2, 2013
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Junior Bender is a thief and a good one, but he has a second gig: solving crimes for bad guys. Naturally, the bad guys can’t take their cases to the authorities, but who says bad guys don’t want justice, too? That’s where Junior comes in. This time he’s working for eightysomething Irwin Dressler, Hollywood Mob boss, who wants to right a 60-year-old wrong. Dolores La Marr was an up-and-coming starlet when she was linked to Vegas gangsters and her career trashed. Dressler is sure she was set up and wants Junior to figure out who was behind the frame. A cold case is one thing, but a long-frozen one is quite another. Still, Dressler is not somebody you argue with, so Junior begins asking questions, and the people he gets answers from promptly start dying. The tangled plot unwinds eventually, producing some surprises along the way—and a wealth of golden age Hollywood ambience—but the real draw here remains the fast-talking, quick-thinking Junior, a slightly seedier but equally entertaining version of Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr. If comic crime is your thing, you need to know Junior Bender. --Bill Ott
Praise for The Fame Thief
A Crimespree Magazine Best Book of 2013
"Timothy Hallinan's The Fame Thief has everything I've come to expect in a Hallinan novel: indelible, complex characters, fantastic plot, and moments of hold-your-breath suspense."
—Charlaine Harris, author of the New York Times bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series
"Wisecracking Junior is great company, the occasional whiff of the supernatural is nicely kooky, and there’s a satisfying balance between the present-day mystery and the vivid flashbacks."
—The Seattle Times
"As usual in a Junior Bender novel, the writing is reminiscent of the best of crime fiction’s golden age — as taut and hardboiled as Dashiell Hammett’s yet peppered with the sort of smart-aleck lines Raymond Chandler loved to toss off."
—The Associated Press
“In Hallinan’s satisfying third Junior Bender novel (after Little Elvises), the L.A. burglar/PI continues to excavate show business’s forgotten past, investigating in this installment the also-rans of postwar Hollywood.”
"Could not stop laughing. Tim Hallinan is sharp as a blade, has a wicked eye for human nature and keeps the reader guessing and rooting for Junior Bender all the way."
—Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
"The Fame Thief will keep you laughing long after you close the cover."
"The third book in any series can be expected to rest on its laurels, but Hallinan raises the bar."
—Bill Barnes, Unshelved
"The refreshingly unassuming Junior is a fun riff on the typical private investigator: his specialty--committing crimes, rather than solving them--brings him an unusual perspective. The elderly Dressler is a fabulous, deadpan wiseguy in "eye-agonizing" golf pants, backed up by two unusually domestic versions of the standard muscled goon. And Junior's own domestic concerns--a teenage daughter, her jokester boyfriend, an ex-wife and a randy new girlfriend--fill out the eccentric, likable cast. Fast-paced action and a building body count pair nicely with humor in this series, bound to keep the reader coming back for more."
"Hallinan’s natural storytelling skills will hold readers rapt through his Shakespeare-quoting, five-act tale as they relish his attention to Los Angeles cultural details and ability to weave two time periods together so effectively."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Junior is at the top of his game in this third in the comic crime series, dispensing facetious remarks while assembling all the disparate pieces into a masterful exposé of a long ago Hollywood frame-up."
—Stop You're Killing Me
"The tangled plot ... produce[s] some surprises along the way, but the real draw here remains the fasttalking, quick-thinking Junior, a slightly seedier but equally entertaining version of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr. If comic crime is your thing, you need to know Junior Bender."
"The main character (not really a hero, because heroes are on the side of justice, right?) is a fun guy to hang out with. He’s a witty burglar who kept me reading, turning the pages as fast as I could."
"I started reading Timothy Hallinan’s books several years back and was drawn into his series featuring adventure travel writer Poke Rafferty. Read ’em all, loved ’em all ... So I was a bit concerned when Hallinan started a new series featuring Junior Bender, occasional burglar and full-time go-to guy for those who need a bit of private investigation that strays outside the fine lines of the law. My worries were unfounded: Hallinan is three-deep into the new series, and the books are every bit as good as their forebears—with the added attraction of some Hiaasen-esque comic tone."
—Bruce Tierney, Bookpage
"Hallinan succeeds in crafting the wonderful blend of a Hollywood exposé and a noir mystery with the complexities of a caper... This third Junior Bender mystery satisfies as an extremely enjoyable mystery with loads of dark humor and a brilliant cast of characters who are enmeshed in a spider web plot that spanned through the decades."
—King's River Life Magazine
"Funny and smart and suspenseful all at once."
—The Long Beach Gazette
"Timothy Hallinan's Junior Bender books are so much fun to read that they're almost illegal."
"Junior’s levity provides an excellent set-off to the dark underpinnings of the criminal world he inhabits. Along the way to the truth, he strives not only to keep himself alive, but also to bring a sort of justice to those who have been wronged, even so many years later. More please, Mr. Hallinan."
—Ted Hertel, Deadly Pleasures Magazine
"There is enough gruesome violence, tense drama, and oddball characters in The Fame Thief to satisfy any fan of modern noir. Highly recommended for mystery fans, like myself, who enjoy humorous, but violent, noir."
"The Fame Thief is a rare commodity, a good read that is satisfying on multiple levels. Highest recommendation."
—New Mystery Reader
“Read The Fame Thief. It’s a great book, an interesting mystery, and one of the best novels about living in Los Angeles that I’ve read in a while."
"These are classic noir LA mysteries, giant twisty dark puzzles but with a wicked sense of humor, which I dearly love. I read The Fame Thief in one sitting. This series is absolutely perfect for summer reading!”
"Junior is hard not to like. He's funny, smart, resourceful, and his heart is pure, even if his career choice is not."
—Over My Dead Body
Praise for the Junior Bender Series
“A modern-day successor to Raymond Chandler.”
—Los Angeles Daily News
"Hallinan introduces us to a drugged-out, pain-impervious hit man, a nonagenarian puppet master who rules the L.A. underworld, a tabloid reporter who uses his job as a cover to blackmail the rich and the famous, and a host of other characters as dangerously outrageous as the murderous crew obsessed with obtaining the black bird in Hammett's 1930 masterpiece."
"If Carl Hiaasen and Donald Westlake had a literary love child, he would be Timothy Hallinan. The Edgar nominee's laugh-out-loud new crime series featuring Hollywood burglar-turned-private eye Junior Bender has breakout written all over it... A must-read."
—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of One Was a Soldier
"Junior Bender is today’s Los Angeles as Raymond Chandler might have written it. Tim [Hallinan] is a master at tossing out the kind of hard-boiled lines that I wish I thought of first."
—Bruce DeSilva, Macavity & Edgar Award-winning author of Rogue Island
"Loved loved loved Crashed, Tim Hallinan's first Junior Bender mystery. Great narrative voice, complex plot, 3-D characters. Hallinan’s deft comic tone and colorful characters have earned him comparisons to Donald Westlake and Carl Hiaasen. Check it out now."
"Timothy Hallinan’s affable antihero, an accomplished thief but inept sleuth named Junior Bender, makes a terrific first impression in Crashed.... Bender’s quick wit and smart mouth make him a boon companion on this oddball adventure."
—New York Times Book Review
"Junior Bender is bound to be the topic of conversation amongst book lovers and crime fiction fans for a long, long time."
—Robert Carraher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"The story is well designed and well told, and the dialogue sparkles. In a genre perhaps slightly overstuffed with crook-heroes, the book is like a breath of fresh air."
"One thing that immediately hits you about Timothy Hallinan’s writing is the clarity and snap of his prose. Junior Bender isn’t a gumshoe, but the cadence of his voice and his observations harken back to other great detectives who were expert at landing a crucial, devastating remark, as well as using their fists or a pistol. It’s a cliché, of course, to bring up Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, but the similarities are nevertheless present in fitting ways."
—Derek Hill, Mystery Scene
“This is Hallinan at the top of his game. It's laugh-out-loud funny without ever losing any of its mystery. It’s a whole new style and I love it. Junior Bender—a crook with a heart of gold—is one of Hallinan's most appealing heroes, rich with invention, and brimming with classic wit. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
—Shadoe Stevens, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
“Bender's been a burglar since he was 14. He's "never been caught, never been charged," but he has been kissed. In "Little Elvises," he describes one particular smooch as full of "sweetness" with a "shot of cayenne." And that's a perfect description for Bender himself. He has a big heart. It's just crooked. Bender still loves his ex-wife, adores his precocious daughter, but he's become the go-to guy for folks who can't go to the cops. Think of him as a detective for the delinquent, a fixer for felons."
—Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Hallinan is a stunning talent.”
—Gregg Hurwitz, author of They're Watching
"This is one of those books you long for, wait for, and find once or twice a year."
—Beth Kanell, proprietor of Kingdom Books, Vermont
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Junior's name is apt: he is 'bent', being a professional burglar from the age of 15. Also, in writing the series, Hallinan 'bends' time: the setting is at once 'retro', going back to the 'Turner Classic Movie' period of Hollywood's 'Golden Era' and blurring its way into the Fifties, Sixties, Eighties and on to the new Millennium. This is no easy trick but Hallinan always makes it work for me!
The author packs in the classic Hollywood details and he is very strong on descriptive writing. He can write violence, compassion, the details of burnt out lives, LA geography--really, whatever he needs to write to advance the story line and keep the 'atmosphere' at a high level. Characters just seem to 'roll of the tip of the author's pen.' Some of them are 'stock' items, like the hard-bitten secretaries or actress 'extras' and the Hollywood 'hangers on' like agents and studio PR experts, but they all live on the page for me. Even Drexler's beefy 'muscle' are given a little bit extra in terms of character. Bender is a 'crusader' type of LA detective with plenty of heart, a bit of 'naivite' and a willingness to exact revenge where it is merited. It is no surprise then that this third outing aims at revealing the past as well as in unmasking and punishing a murderer. Even when he is being a 'father' to his daughter the 'vibe' stays hip and cool: she is a computer whiz at 13 and has her own 'wise beyond her years' take on family life and romance.
If you can 'suspend your disbelief' a bit and buy into the above description, you will very likely enjoy the Bender books as much as I do!
In "The Fame Thief," he (reluctantly) takes on a job for a 90-year old crime boss who has been pulling strings in Hollywood and the film industry for many decades. The task is to find out who torpedoed the career of a B-movie starlet (one Delores La Marr) in the 1950s and why. With that launching pad, Bender is off on one of the most hilarious and clever investigations in crime story history. Every page is crammed with crusty, smart-talking characters who probably are pretty close to the authentic inhabitants of tinseltown--or at least as the rest of us imagine them to be. In any event, the dialogue cracks like a whip continuously, with one oral duel after another.
Author Tim Hallinan has outdone himself in stitching this fun and very funny novel together. It satisfies on every level, including in its well-thought out conclusion. This is a wonderfully entertaining read. Highly recommended.
This is the third of the series. I recommend reading them in order to get all of the background on the characters. There are several that will recur in each book and all are introduced in Crashed or Little Elvises. The stories stand on their own (not continuations of the previous books) but some of the characters might be a little less clear if you start reading the series with the Fame Thief. My only complaint about Hallinan's writing is that he just isn't fast enough. I'm impatiently waiting for the next Junior Bender story.