Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Frames" by Loren D. Estleman

I was reading merrily along in chapter 18 when all of a sudden, I stopped breathing.  Not because I was choking, or because the book was suddenly terrifying.  But because, at the bottom of page 176, a character said, "I haven't seen so many cops in one place since they arrested John Landis."

And I stopped breathing and my heart started to pound because I know why John Landis got arrested, and the reason he did makes me EXTREMELY ANGRY AND SAD.  And the book as a whole has nothing to do with Landis, though it's all about Hollywood and movie-making and old movies and things like that, so it's not like this reference was out of place.  It was in perfect place.  I just wasn't expecting it.  

I stopped reading right there too, and told myself to breathe, and gathered my courage, and then made my eyes travel to the top of the next page where, sure enough, the next sentence was: "That would be for the accident that killed Vic Morrow and two child extras on the set of Twilight Zone--The Movie."  And I was very happy that Estleman included that, but I couldn't read any farther for like twenty minutes because I had to sit and think about Vic Morrow and be sad all over again for him.

You see, Vic Morrow is one of my favorite actors.  He starred as my favorite fictional character (Sgt. Saunders) in my favorite TV show, Combat! (1962-67).  And he and two children died, tragically and violently, on the set of Twilight Zone--The Movie when Landis broke all kinds of safety regulations and child labor laws.  And Landis was acquitted, in what I believe to be a terrible miscarriage of justice.  So, yeah, I got a little emotional over having that whole subject come up suddenly in the middle of what is otherwise a charming and playful mystery book.

As for Frames, it's a delightful book.  A film historian and preservationist named Valentino buys a crumbling old theater, finds a long-lost silent film inside, and then finds a dead body.  I liked the major players, the minor characters were memorable, and the mystery was engaging.  I will read more of this series.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  a soft PG-13 for some mild kissing and innuendo, the discovery of a skeleton, and possibly a little mild bad language, though I can't right now remember any words used in particular.  It could almost swing a PG rating.

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