The Wizard of La-La Land by Robert Campbell

Pocket (first), 1995

When a chum tells Mike Rialto, a glass-eyed card shark, that twangy boy (male prostitute) Kenny Gotch, who is dying of AIDS in a local hospital, knows “something” about the brutal mutilation murder of ten-year-old Sarah Canaan ten years ago, Mike visits Kenny. He finds him apparently sleeping, and as he tugs at his shoulder to talk to him, Kenny rolls over and spews a mouth full of blood in Mike’s face. Kenny is dead, and Mike is freaked. He runs to private investigator Whistler and his sidekick, one-armed, avid reader, intellectual counterman Bosco Silverlake. As Mike relates his story to Whistler and Bosco, Isaac Canaan, who is not only a detective but also the uncle of the murdered ten-year-old, strolls in and overhears enough to set him out on the trail of his niece’s murderer. Whistler too joins the fray. Meanwhile, Mike is arrested for Kenny’s murder. The plot gyrates around Satanism, kinky sex, white slavery, pederasts, pedophiles and other assorted geeks as well as a memorable bad guy who has a tattoo of a spider crawling out his anus. But this fourth Whistler in La-La land novel is not quite up to the standard that Campbell has given us on the last three outings. The usual fire, tension and suspense are missing. That is not to say that this a bad novel. In fact, it is a good novel that doesn’t quite meet our expectations. Even so, it’s superior entertainment. (Jim D Combs)

Originally published in Issue # 135 – January/February 1995

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