Cold Desert Sky
By Rod Reynolds
Published by Faber & Faber (5 July 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.
No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.
Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the city of angels.
But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins, he finds it leads him right back to his worst fear: legendary Mob boss Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can't shake.
As events move from LA to the burgeoning Palace of Sin in the desert, Las Vegas - where Siegel is preparing to open his new Hotel Casino, The Flamingo - Rod Reynolds once again shows his skill at evoking time and place. With Charlie caught between the FBI and the mob, can he possibly see who is playing who, and find out what really happened to the two girls?
I can't believe that it's nearly two years since I last spent time in the company of Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie. But I've just checked and it is! A few pages into Cold Desert Sky and I don't feel like I've been away from them at all. I also realise how much I've missed them.
Rod Reynolds is a master at creating authentic crime fiction steeped in American noir. His books are set not only in the US, but also in the 1940s. So it's no mean feat to make them feel very real, and he certainly does just that. His descriptions are evocative and atmospheric, his dialogue sharp and spot on.
Charlie Yates is an experienced journalist trying to find two women who have disappeared in the glamorous, glitzy world of Hollywood. He certainly isn't a pushover and isn't afraid to take risks, but he also has plenty of heart. Lizzie is far more than Charlie's wife, or 'sidekick' - she's an equal partner, feisty and opinionated, and his voice of reason. They have a loving relationship, independent when they're apart but also reliant on one another when they're together.
Cold Desert Sky takes us on a rollercoaster journey as Charlie and Lizzie go in search of the truth, looking for these two young women. They've managed to put their lives in danger and it's going to take a lot for them to wriggle their way out of it, with a mobster on their trail. But who can they trust along the way? Paranoia seeps through the pages, and the stakes are high.
Yet again, Rod Reynolds has written a fast-paced read. And with that ending, I hope there will be more Charlie Yates to come.
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