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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Angel's Gate


Title: Angel’s Gate
Author: p.g. sturges
Series: Shortcut Man (#3)
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 
 February 26, 2013
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary: Our hero Dick Henry--aka the Shortcut Man--becomes involved in a case featuring an aging but still amorous Los Angeles movie mogul named Howard Hogue who keeps a stable of young starlets available for his highly ritualized attentions. Retained by the sister of a young woman who has gone missing, Henry becomes friendly with Connie Cielo, the "housemother" to the starlets. Despite Connie's morally questionable responsibilities, she is willing to help (and enjoy the company of) the Shortcut Man. After Hogue's star director assaults one of these women in a drug-fueled romp, Henry is drawn into a deeper mystery from years past involving a mysterious death on a boat and a missing screenplay written by what appears to be a homeless man. As he peels back layer upon layer of sordid Hollywood history, Dick Henry must contend with crazed drug dealers, Hogue's personal doctor, crooked cops, private security henchmen, and Hogue himself--who is so powerful and bunkered in his movie-biz millions that he is unfazed by the resourceful Henry.

Review: I honestly had no idea what to expect as I began reading Angel's Gate by author p.g. sturges. Described as a kind of tongue-in-cheek, noir novel, I was initially attracted by the thought of a good mystery. Set in Los Angeles, the novel follows the story of shortcut man Dick Henry. A former cop, Henry now goes around town, "getting things done" for the illustrious characters who occupy Hollywood. We first gain a glimpse into his work when he retrieves a client's money from a fraudulent lawyer. After getting the money (and urinating in the fraudulent lawyer's ficus tree), Henry reveals himself to be a man with good intentions, even if his methods are unconventional.

The first few chapters are a bit confusing as each one introduces different characters and points of view. Fortunately, the setup is made clearer as each character develops into unique individuals. Without giving too much of the plot away, the novel basically follows Henry as he is thrust into a large conspiracy, lead by the womanizing head of a large movie studio. When one of the studio executives "stars" is brutally beaten and sexually abused, Henry is called in to help clean up the mess. All parties involved, including a disgruntled producer, violent director, former Nazi doctor, and a women who's job is to take care of all the studio head's women, struggle to keep the incident a secret, for fear of losing their jobs and plush Hollywood lifestyle that they have grown accustomed to.

I although it took a little while to get going, I ended up being totally engrossed in this novel. sturges writes with a confidence and lightness that really lends itself well to this kind of noir story. This novel definitely has some graphic scenes, but all are presented in a light-hearted way that never glorifies the violence. The strong characters, multiple intersecting plots, and sturges's sharp wit, all culminate into an entertaining and surprisingly satisfying read.

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