Death is a Lonely Business – Ray Bradbury (1999, Perennial, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York)
There is a dollop of fantasy in this insanely clever mystery set in Venice, California in 1949…and so much deliciously wonderful prose I couldn’t stop grinning the entire time I read it. Bradbury conjures up the styles of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, and James M. Cain, paying homage to these masters while adding his own deft touches. In Death is a Lonely Business, a struggling young writer races to determine why so many of his friends are suddenly turning up dead or missing. Assisted by a cast of quirky characters, including a reclusive actress and a tough-as-nails cop with a secret of his own, the writer explores the nooks and crannies of perpetually rainy Venice, and takes us along on a musical, theatrical carousel ride. Death might be a lonely business, but in this case, it is a pure delight to read about.