Detective Arthur Wu of Wudu, Ltd. takes on a case involving two kinky British hypnotists and a Hollywood personality who is accused of gunning down her very wealthy ex-fiance+a7. By the author of The Cold War Swap. 35,000 first printing. $35,000 ad/promo.
Ross Thomas was an American writer of crime fiction. He is best known for his witty thrillers that expose the mechanisms of professional politics. He also wrote several novels under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck about professional go-between Philip St. Ives.
Thomas served in the Philippines during World War II. He worked as a public relations specialist, reporter, union spokesman, and political strategist in the USA, Bonn (Germany), and Nigeria before becoming a writer.
His debut novel, The Cold War Swap, was written in only six weeks and won a 1967 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Briarpatch earned the 1985 Edgar for Best Novel. In 2002 he was honored with the inaugural Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award, one of only two authors to earn the award after their death (the other was 87th Precinct author Evan Hunter in 2006).
He died of lung cancer two months before his 70th birthday.
it is not the greatest plot but Thomas have so much charm in his characters that you don't put it down. it is witty, it is funny and Thomas is great in painting situations in lovely small episodes and he is clever. it is a smart noir with glimpses on Iraq war in the background.
Ross Thomas wrote political thrillers, but that term doesn't quite capture what his books were about; he wrote about spies, he wrote about corrupt politicians, he wrote about con men and gamblers and reporters and other adventurers. What he really wrote about was disillusionment, the shock of ideals meeting the real and sordid world of money and power. A Ross Thomas novel is all about intrigue and betrayal. This one, set in 1991 as the first Iraq war unfolds, features the ensemble characters who appear in several of his books, the troubleshooting partnership of Artie Wu and Quincy Durant (Wudu, Ltd.) along with sidekicks Otherguy Overby (when the cops come calling, it was always the Other Guy who did it), Georgia Blue (ex-Secret Service agent turned professional femme fatale) and Brook Stallings (the retired terrorism consultant who may be the closest thing to a self-portrait Thomas produced). Wudu Ltd. (its mispronunciation by a German client gives the book its title) is in the business of getting rich people out of jams while keeping them out of the newspapers. They have their work cut out for them in this one, as Ione Gamble, the Hollywood star, is about to go on trial for killing Billy Rice, the billionaire fiance who jilted her. Even she doesn't know if she's guilty, as she was in an alcoholic blackout on the fatal night; a blackmailer claims to have evidence that will send her to the gas chamber. Brought in by her lawyer to make it all go away, Wu and Durant go to work and soon find that nobody is to be trusted, perhaps including individuals on their payroll. It all plays out in Malibu and similarly atmospheric L.A. settings, and there are twists, angles, deals and corpses galore. The humor is dry, the dialogue crisp, the logic implacable. Nobody did intrigue better than Ross Thomas.
I would happily read another 20 Wu and Durant books but alas (and there’s a very good “alas” joke in the series) Ross Thomas only gave us three, of which this is the last. Each one is wildly different in plot while steeping the reader in the machinations and quirks of the motley not-quite-Robin-Hood-like (but sometimes almost) con artists are whose exploits they chronicle.
I really enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons. First, it's a nice time capsule of 1990s Southern California. Thomas does a great job of recreating that time and place. Maybe not recreating, because he wrote it then, but it still feels new. Second, I think the character ensemble in this book is great. I just realized this is the third book in a series so maybe the first two books add more color to the characters but you don't need them to read this book. I jumped right in and had no problem following along. But, now that I know, I feel like I need to go read those other books.
The plot is probably a little beyond belief but it's nothing crazier than you normally find in these types of books. Thomas is really really good with dialogue which helps drive the story forward. I recommend this book. It's probably a great summer read.
It's Los Angeles during Iraqui War of 1991. Artie Wu's finances are low, so when German entrepreneur Enno Glimm (who pronounces Wudu, Inc as Voodoo, Ltd.) shows up offering money, Artie gathers the gang - Otherguy Overby, Quincy Durant, Georgia Blue (just out a Phillippines jail), and Booth Stallings - to go to Malibu where Ione Gamble is accused of killing her ex-fiancee millionaire Billy Rice. Gamble knows she was at Rice's house that New Year's Eve, but has no memory of the murder because she was drunk.
Gamble's attorney, Howard Moody, has hired two British scammer hypnotists to try to get at the truth. They disappear and eventually blackmail Gamble for tapes they say prove she admitted the murder under hypnosis. Wudu Ltd rents Rice's house as headquarters; put out the word that they're looking for salacious videos; and start throwing money around to attract attention.
Interesting bit players include Colleen Cullen, owner of a sawed-off shotgun, who runs an inn which is a hideout for crooks, a place to buy guns, and a hideout for the hypnotists. It is also the place of a showdown between Georgia Blue, Quincy Durant and Otherbuy Overby which leaves both Cullen and the blackmailer Jack Broach, Ione's Gamble's manager and attorney, who has embezzled money from Gamble. He admits before he dies that there were no tapes.
Another player, who turns out to be critical, is Rick Cleveland, a has-been actor who lives across the street from Billy Rice's house, who is bitter about Rice building a monstrosite house that ruined his view. He claims to have seen Gamble's car at Rice's house two times the night of the murder. Stallings traps Cleveland into admitting the murder by renting an expensive car identical to Gamble's.
This is the third and, alas, final outing for Ross Thomas' tough and delightful soldiers of fortune, Artie Wu and Quncy Durant, and I was sad to see them go. The first two books, "Chinaman's Chance" and "Out on the Rim," are both funny and unpredictable. This one had some funny moments, but the plot is all too predictable, focusing on a murder mystery that's not much of a mystery.
A famous actress is accused of murdering her ex-fiance. She submits to hypnosis to help her recall what happened that night. Then the hypnotists disappear. Wu & Durant's company, WuDu Ltd., is hired by the man who provided the hypnotists to track them down and figure out what happened. (He's the one who mispronounces the company name as "Voodoo.") Artie and Quincy recruit the same gang of allies who populated "Out on the Rim": terrorism expert Booth Stallings, ex-Secret Service agent Georgia Blue and the one holdover from the first novel, con man extraordinaire Maurice "Otherguy" Overby.
They rent the murder victim's own beach house and set to work. Prety soon it's obvious what happened to the hypnotists, a couple of the slimiest characters Thomas ever invented. Meanwhile, well before the book's end you'll figure out who the killer was.
As I finished the book, I wondered if Thomas didn't write any more Wu-Durant stories because he'd grown bored with inventing adventures for them. It's too bad because they're fun characters, but if this plot was the best he could come up with for them, then perhaps it's best they faded away. In the meantime, I'm moving on to other Thomas novels, trying to work my way through all of them this year.
Why hasn’t anyone made a movie of these books? Artie Wu and Quincy Durant come to the rescue of Ione Gamble, actress, director and murder suspect. Of course they assemble a team that includes Georgia Blue and Otherguy Overby. I think I have to get a cat just so I can name it Otherguy Overby. This book was slender, like That F’ng Durant and did not disappoint. It was less complicated than Out on the Rim, but nuclear physics is less complicated than the Rim. The only sad part of Voodoo Ltd. is that it’s the last I’ll ever read of Artie, wise, benevolent Buddha of larceny that he is. Although I’ve been looking for a real life tall, dark and mysterious Durant all my life, it’s probably best for everyone’s safety that I’ve yet to meet him. Would it hurt me to read it again? I’ll let you know.
This book was fun, but very unrealistic and a little difficult to follow. Artie Wu and his partner Quincy Durant take on a possible blackmail situation in Los Angeles involving an actress/director accused of murdering her wealthy ex fiance. Other characters include a female ex FBI agent who has just been released from jail in the Philippines. There are lots of deaths and fast action. It wasn't really clear to me why the German financier was funding the entire episode, but thousands of dollars are bouncing back and forth.
I'm now reading this book a second time. About 14 years ago, I read four of Ross Thomas's novels and liked them all. They're very intelligent, complex thrillers with well-rounded characters and fascinating plot twists. They're also set in Southern California, not far from where I live, so the familiar settings make them even more enjoyable to me.
As usual, Thomas's humor works on a number of levels, providing everything from tiny smiles to side-splitting laughter. The thing I love about his books is that they work as a quick read, because you can follow the plot and get some of the humor, but they also work as a slower read because there's so much subtlety in the plot and the comedy. Thomas sometimes even makes his punctuation funny.
One of the greats. Thomas could put a story together and keep you reading until the sun comes up. He created mood, great characters, and told it the way it is. It's almost like a handbook for the real world and it's wicked ways. No wonder he was the head honcho for the Mystery Writer's of America. He could weave a yarn.
A quick, slick read with the snap that likens it to Soderbergh's Ocean's 11, and just enough cynical political commentary to know that Mr. Thomas spent his fair share of time in Washington. Thomas is an author for those who like questionable heroes who drink their whisky with a little bit of water, and rarely feel conflicted about a double-cross.
Should be a 4.5 star but I don't know how to do that. Nobody beats Thomas for tight prose. Solid mystery story and the only things I disliked about it was it was set in the 90's and there was no McCorkle/Padillo banter; not that it lacked sarcasm. From any other author I may have gone with 5 stars.
The inimitable Ross Thomas--murky situations, great characters, and snappy dialogue. Artie Wu and his merry band of mercenary friends try to sort out a blackmail attempt in Los Angeles. It's all a bit over the top, but who cares? It's fun.
As with the other Ross Thomas books I have begun and failed to finished, I am impressed by his technical skill as a storyteller, but have no interest in his characters or in the story Thomas tells. I lasted in this one for more than a third of the way, but giving up was a relief.