STEPHEN HUMPHREY BOGART – Play It Again. R. J.Brooks #1. Forge, hardcover, 1995; paperback, June 1996.

   R. J. Brooks is a Manhattan PI, and if he isn’t sleazy, it isn’t because he doesn’t do sleazy work. He’s also the son of a couple of movie stars; his father’s dead, but his mother, the glamorous if aging Belle Fontaine, is still around.

   He doesn’t have much to do with her, though, and thinks she was a pretty lousy mother, all things told. But there’s a murder that changes all sorts of things, and R. J. has to face part of a past he turned away from long ago.

   This isn’t quite a two-smiley, but it’s a solid smiley-plus. Bogart has a flair for dialog, and tells a pretty good story. His characters are well done, too, and Brooks comes across as a surprisingly real person for the most part.

   The book isn’t compelling or anything that grand, but it will stand comparison with most of the PI stuff being done these days. There’ll be a lot of speculation as to how much of his real relationship with his parents found its way into the story, as I’m sure he realizes full well; it can’t do anything but sell books.

   It’s blurbed, by the way, by Connie Chung and Liz Smith, if that tells you anything about how Tor/Forge intends to market it.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #18, February-March 1995.

Bibliographic Note:   There was one follow-up book in a series of only two: As Time Goes By (Forge, hardcover, 1997).