I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Hollywood 1939. The year The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind were made. Detective Craine has spent his life working as a studio fixer; whitewashing the misdemeanours and crimes committed by the studio players and stars. But now he’s trying to turn his back on that life following the recent death of his wife as he’s determined to be a better parent to his young son.
But then Craine’s services are called upon one last time. Soon, what should be a straightforward case proves anything but when connections are made between a producer’s suicide and a brutal murder across town. And that’s just the start of the story.
The Pictures is Guy Bolton’s debut novel that is set during Hollywood of 1939. Detective Craine is the detective used by the studios to alter the truth of incidents caused by those starring in their films; using his contacts around the city he convinces newspaper editors, coroners, and other officials to eradicate any mention of something that could give the studios a bad name. However, on this case, he finds it hard to let anything slide, his morals being questioned by a new detective on the scene, Detective Patrick O’Neill.
Initially, I believed this to be a novel that I wouldn’t normally pick up. I am definitely a fan of the Detective novels however, I believe that the era it is set in may have been the reason why I believed this. However, I found this novel, from the get go, to be intriguing and full of mystery. Guy Bolton presents a novel with three different crimes, all of them linked but with no solid evidence as to how. We only know that they are linked by the inquisitiveness of Detective Patrick O’Neill and the way that he digs at Detective Johnathon Craine’s conscience throughout the novel. It is a novel that highlights the truth of such an age and industry, covering up vital clues and information so that the industry does not become affected and so that police divisions easily met their targets. It makes you question the truth about everything that you hear regarding celebrities and the glitz and glamour of their life and how their lives aren’t all that they appear – there might be something lurking in the shadows.
Detective Craine, as a character, is one that I found intriguing and not without his flaws. Having been on the force for a long time, he has reached that stage in his career where he has lost the urge to leave no stone unturned. This isn’t helped by the role in which he plays at the studios: being paid off to make these cases look like what they seem as opposed to what they truly are. In the beginning, it is clear that he doesn’t hold many morals regarding these transactions and the position that he is in. However, it is O’Neill that gets to him with his thirst to know the truth and not allow the facts to be skewed, blurred, or thrown away. He wants to do what is right and be an honest Detective, not the scam that everyone else appears to be. It is Craine’s position that makes him so flawed and the fact that he has been in that role for so long. But he does develop, and quite a lot thanks to O’Neill and begins to remember what being a detective is all about which, in turn, allows him to become the father that he has failed to be.
I loved all the twists and turns within the narrative and how they slowly unraveled as more and more information was provided. The pacing was well set and didn’t slow down the progression of the narrative and the strands that led to the investigation progressing were real and legitimate, they did not seem forced or created out of nothing. I also enjoyed the element of verisimilitude with the actors and big names within the industry which added entertainment value in itself making the narrative more interesting and juicy considering the scandals we are presented with. Craine’s emotions throughout felt raw and really helped me to connect with his character. His past is always at the forefront of his mind as his situation is directly linked to events within his own life.
I am hoping that we will get more out of Detective Craine, maybe previous stories leading up to this event. I enjoyed the mystery, scandal, and the overall investigation – it kept me hooked throughout and kept my mind busy at all times.