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Loser's Town: A David Spandau Novel Hardcover – March 3, 2009
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Summoned to the trailer of a Hollywood star who's receiving death threats, former stuntman-turned-private investigator David Spandau assumes this will be another routine case. It turns out to be anything but.
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They work for second-rate mobster and nightclub owner Richie Stella who prefers to operate under the radar. Stella wants on-the-rise movie star Bobby Dye as the lead in a film Stella wants to produce. Dye knows that the horrible script will be the downfall of a career set to skyrocket to new heights upon release of his current movie.
David Spandau retired from movie stunt work although injuries sustained during a recent calf roping event at a rodeo has him wondering if he should also give up his favorite part-time sport. Spandau turned to detective work with a belief that helping others solve their problems was a much safer career move.
In true Hollywood fashion, he wears Armani suits, pointy-toed cowboy boots, and drives a leased BMW provided by his boss.
Bobby Dye hires Spandau to protect him from Richie Stella and the challenge begins. Spandau soon meets an interesting cast of characters as he attempts to protect a spoiled and scared actor. As the danger to Dye and to the detective escalates, Spandau soon wonders if he will live to take on another case.
During his off time, he lives in a modest two bedroom home, drives a refurbished 1958 pickup, and remembers the days when he and his ex-wife were still together.
Daniel Depp acknowledges up front that Spandau will return for further outings, good news for those who enjoy this genre. He has created a strong, smart detective who would rather spend time sitting in his favorite chair smoking his pipe, sipping Wild Turkey, surrounded by his collection of western and Native American memorabilia, although willing to rise to the occasion when called upon.
Loser's Town is Depp's first novel and it is apparent he has insider knowledge from his years working in Hollywood. He knows where the bones are buried as he takes a satirical look at an industry with a cast of characters straight from central casting.
Although gruesome at times, the storyline moves more or less at a satisfying pace. The sometimes-salty language may offend a few readers, but the dialogue is often brisk and witty in noir fashion, and highly enjoyable.
Loser's Town provides a fictional account of an industry most people know very little about. Seen through the eyes of a sardonic PI, Hollywood loses some of its luster, but none of its appeal. While first time author Depp continues to hone his craft, fans will no doubt eagerly await the next David Spandau story.
Loser's Town: A David Spandau Novel
They are not They.
He, She, or It, is not You.
Daniel Depp has written a sharp and stylish mystery. It opens with thugs Potts and Squiers running an errand for their boss, Ritchie Stella. Stella's a night club owner, drug dealer, organized criminal, and wanna-be motion picture producer. He's sent Potts and Squiers to remove a body from the home of newly-minted film star Bobby Dye. Just in case Bobby doesn't realize that he owes Stella big time, some highly incriminating photos are taken at the scene.
Armed with these, Stella asks Bobby to star in a film he wants to produce. The script's a stinker, and if he knows anything, Bobby knows that doing Stella's film will kill his burgeoning career. He needs help.
It is at this point that we meet our protagonist, David Spandau, a private eye we've been promised to see in future novels. Spandau's a former Hollywood stuntman and a part-time rodeo performer. He wears Armani suits with cowboy boots. His philosophy: "When all else fails, just be taller." What else do you need to know about the guy? He's good at his job, still hung up on his ex, and doesn't suffer fools gladly. Spandau decides he's going to solve the Stella problem, despite being hired, fired, and quitting the job any number of times throughout the book.
There's nothing really special or unusual about the plot of the novel, and I don't know that plotting is Depp's strength. I'm torn when it comes to the characters. Spandau's entertaining enough. And Potts turned out to be a pretty interesting character. A thug with a rich internal life, he's a good guy at heart, but he does some very bad things. Then there's Terry McGuinn, an associate of Spandau's. He's five foot six, a martial arts genius, catnip for the ladies, and has an Irish brogue you could cut with a knife. I guess that's it. Depp has gone a bit overboard making all of his characters... characters. They're all so special and idiosyncratic. It's a bit much, but they really are entertaining.
Where Depp really shines is with his prose and his dialog, both of which are wonderfully witty and fun to read aloud. The banter is fast-paced and humorous, and yes, the language is salty. I find myself amazed by how many people are deeply offended by a little cussing. The irony is, even Spandau doesn't appreciate the language, repeatedly telling other characters, "I've got better things to do... than sit around and be verbally abused." Anyway, if you're easily offended, you probably won't appreciate the dialog--but I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Depp's other strength is just knowing the world he's writing about. Insights into the privileges and pitfalls of fame ring true. His working knowledge of the film industry and the characters therein provide plenty of material for his satirical eye. Depp's got a fine sense of humor, but not everything in this novel is a joke, and there's a good blend of comic and more serious elements. I didn't have tremendous expectations going into this novel, but I liked it enough that I'll definitely be checking out the next in the series.
Spandau is called back from vacation to take a case involving Bobby Dye, an up and coming new star on the verge of making it to the pinnacle of the Hollywood scene. But, he's receiving death threats and, more importantly, is being blackmailed. Spandau has to deal with greedy agents, flighty actors and an on again / off again relationship with his client throughout as he tracks clues through the ugly underbelly of the Hollywood scene.
The book's title comes from a Robert Mitchum quote: "I came out to Los Angeles in the 30s, during the Depression, because there was work here. LA is a loser's town. It always has been. You can make it here when you can't make it anywhere else." This quote sets the tone for the entire book. It is dark, cynical and nihilistic. For me, it was too much. This was not a particularly enjoyable book, although the behind-the-scenes of the movie business aspect was interesting - in the beginning. But, the relentless nature of the book comes off more as petty complaining and trying to air out showbiz's dirty laundry and less about trying to move the plot along.