The Pictures was author Guy Bolton’s entry into pure, noir fiction. The read was golden as it was retro. Why then does his follow-up, The Syndicate, lack any of that LA snap? The Pictures was smooth, single-malt brewed to a James Cain beat.
As a sequel, The Syndicate is as memorable as that last Coors Light before the keg is kicked.
Set eight years later, LAPD fixer Jonathan Craine is removed from both Hollywood and the force. He is a tired, quiet man, a fact that Bolton repeats. Constantly. Almost as much as Craine cries. Craine’s previous Bogart-chic has been repressed with Robert Reed defeat. Yet, he is pulled back to LA for one more job. This time? Find out who murdered mobster Bugsy Siegel.
Bolton, who was a master of capturing 1939’s grace, spins the style roulette in Vegas for this outing, but does nothing to enhance the stay. Name dropping Sinatra is as ubiquitous as modern-day Elvis impersonators. Bolton revives some of his charm with a cleverly-situated c
at-and-mouse chase trapped within a tight time constraint. The action keeps moving, but the tale has been told before and The Syndicate suffers with repetitive fatigue.
Thanks to NetGalley and Oneworld Publications for the ARC. The Syndicate is fine, easy read, but is a flat-footed sequel when compared to The Pictures’ stiletto heights.