Review of BEST MURDER OF THE YEAR by Jon P. Bloch
St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2002
When the beautiful winner of the best actress Oscar is murdered outside the theater, all the evidence points to Rick Domino, gay movie gossip columnist. After all, Tara Perez just stole Rick's boyfriend, his fingerprints are on the gun whose bullets are inside Tara, and he was found standing over the body. The only problem is, Rick knows he didn't do it. Now he has one week to find out who did--and find a way to keep himself alive while he does it. Fortunately, one of the arresting cops decides to take some time off to help Rick look--or is he simply trying to get more evidence for the State? Rick sets off to investigate Hollywood and finds that there were plenty of other people with motive and opportunity to kill Tara. She cheated, lied, and slept her way to the top, and Hollywood doesn't forget. But motive isn't enough when the prosecution has all the physical evidence it needs to convict Rick.
Author Jon P. Bloch writes convincingly of a Hollywood where sexual roles are blurred by secrets and fear of being 'outed' can cause almost any crime. Rick manages to meet the standard stereotypes but in a believable and sympathetic way.
Although Rick's investigations are entertaining and believable, the wrapup to BEST MURDER OF THE YEAR was not. Frequent mystery readers might guess the killer's identity, but Bloch didn't really deliver the clues to give us a sense of satisfaction in figuring it out. The resolution of the sexual tension between the gay Rick and his straight cop-sidekick also seemed a little forced--less clever than the rest of the novel led me to hope for.
Overall, BEST MURDER OF THE YEAR is enjoyable reading--but maybe not the best mystery of the year.
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