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The Long Silence
Tom Collins Mystery – Book I
Gerard O’Donovan

Severn House
UK: 31 January 2018 - US: 1 May 2018/ ISBN 9780727887740

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 

Hollywood, 1922: Ex-policeman Tom Collins is down on his luck after being let go from his job following the arrest of “Fatty” Arbuckle. Going it alone as a PI, he gets hired by studio owner Mack Sennett to look into the sudden death of movie director William Desmond Taylor. Tom has to navigate the murky waters of Hollywood to discover whodunit, a more disturbing business than he expects.

If you are a fan of classic noir detective fiction, this debut novel will plunge you into the world of guns, goons, gangsters and gumshoes. Hapless PI Tom Collins gets more than he bargained for as he tries to unravel the real-life murder of Taylor. This is still an unsolved mystery so don’t expect any new revelations, just the imagination of the author. O’Donovan ably conjures up the heady days of the early film industry, a place where decadence and violence underpins the façade of fun and glamour. This is the age of Prohibition, where gangsters run speakeasies and supply drugs, and where the recent scandal surrounding the Arbuckle murder case has changed everything.

Everybody connected with the film industry is worried about losing their jobs if they are connected with more crime. People in more religious parts of the country campaign to get Hollywood shut down, or at least cleaned up. Into this mix Tom has to discover who killed Taylor and not get himself murdered. It makes for an exciting novel that will appeal to anybody interested in the early years of cinema; some basic knowledge of the era is ideal and adds a dimension to your enjoyment of the story. Famous stars such as Douglas Fairbanks and Mabel Normand make a brief appearance, and the whole tale gives one possible reason for the murder. An interesting new series for early film buffs.

Reviewed 2018