ROBERT CAMPBELL – The Wizard of La-La Land. Whistler #4. Pocket Books, hardcover, 1994. No paperback edition.

   This is the first Whistler since Sweet La-La Land in 1990. Campbell is best known for his Jimmy Flannery books, but my favorite series of his consisted of two books about railroad detective Jake Hatch, Plugged Nickel and Red Cent.

   Whistler, an ex-radio personality, a recovering alcoholic, and now a PI working the grungy streets of Hollywood, still remembers the unsolved murder of a cop friend’s young niece a decade ago. Now a young man dying of AIDS has whispered to a relative that he knows who did it, but hes murdered in his hospital bed before he names anyone. Old ghosts, new demons, and ever-present evil haunt Hollywood’s streets as Whistler tries to link past and present.

   The Whistler books are among the darker of PI stories, and as a matter of fact remind me to mood and sometimes subject matter of Andrew Vachss. They are rough, hard books that deal with unpleasant subjects, written in terse prose to match. Whistler has never really come alive as a character to me, though Campbell does a creditable job with some supporting players. The narration if shifting third person, and Campbell is adept at telling his stories in this way. These are for only the hardest of hardboiled fans.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #14, August 1994.

       The Whistler series —

1. In La-La Land We Trust (1986)
2. Alice in La-La Land (1987)
3. Sweet La-La Land (1990)
4. The Wizard of La-La Land (1995)