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Dead Celebrities
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Mystery/Whodunnit Discussions > Dead Celebrities, by Christopher Calix

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Ulysses Dietz | 1648 comments Dead Celebrities
By Christopher Calix
Lethe Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59021-267-7
Cover design by Inkspiral Design
246 pages
Four stars

I really liked this book. No, I really enjoyed reading this book. Not exactly the same thing. This is a debut novel, and the author is, apparently, young as well as talented.

One weird fact is that the main character’s name, Carter Calhoun, never appears in the book until the last page. Other than that, this is a beautifully crafted homage to Hollywood noir novels. It’s gay noir, with a complex murder mystery woven in and out of a vivid, cynical depiction of Hollywood and the industry that rules the fantasies of the USA along with a good part of the rest of the world.

The closest recent parallel in my mind to “Dead Celebrities” is not a book, but the long-running TV series “Entourage,” which I watched with grim determination through every season to the bitter end. The difference there is that “Entourage” depicted a Hollywood with no gay people, which seemed even more bizarre than the one Calix paints for us. Everything else, however, is right there. I think my intense dislike and disrespect for Hollywood came into focus because of “Entourage,” and Calix offers nothing to sweeten that image.

The never-named first person narrator, Carter Calhoun, is an arch, WASPy Ari Gold, who re-emerges from his decade-long seclusion in the Hollywood Hills to solve a murder that had long been thought to be a suicide. The narrative moves neatly back and forth between the present-day plot and a flashback plot revolving around Calhoun’s onetime client and sometime lover Sam Madison.

There are precious few people that generate any sympathy in this book, and I don’t think that’s accidental. Calhoun's housekeeper and friend Lana (reminding me of Thelma Ritter with her kindness and smart commentary) is the only fully caring human in sight. Even the tragic central character, Sam Madison, is so duplicitous and manipulative that I never could completely embrace him, although Calix gives us a rich sense of his compelling beauty and complex character. The best description of Madison’s personality is presented thusly: “He’s a careless f*****g savage. But he’s also completely naïve and innocent.”

For all its wry, smart gay noir storyline, this is not a book that I’d say would make any gay people happy with the way they’re depicted. For that matter, bisexuals might find this book bordering on defamatory. Only Calhoun himself, by the end, managed to pull me over onto his side. He is the one character who seems to emerge from the blighted, fraudulent culture of Hollywood with something like a soul.

Christopher Calix promises to follow up with another Carter Calhoun story, and I will read it. Interestingly, this appears to be his actual name, which is a breath of fresh air.


Aussie54 | 322 comments Ulysses wrote: "Dead Celebrities
By Christopher Calix
Lethe Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59021-267-7
Cover design by Inkspiral Design
246 pages
Four stars

I really liked this book. No, I really enjoyed reading this bo..."


It's good to see your review for this. I enjoyed it too, and was very happy to give it five stars.

The narrator of the story, Carter Calhoun, isn't the nicest person in the world, but I believe deep down inside him there's a slice of decency. I liked his housekeeper Lana, who did her best to keep him on track. I don't think she would've bothered if he was cold and hard all the way through, although some of the things he did earlier in the book were hateful. I'd hope that part of him stays in the past.


message 3: by PaperMoon (new) - added it

PaperMoon | 665 comments Sounds great Uly - just my kind of read. Ta muchly.


Ulysses Dietz | 1648 comments Aussie54--I think you're right...Calhoun is changed by this experience, and that will emerge in the next book, as he becomes a detective-by-default...


message 5: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 187 comments Ulysses wrote: "Dead Celebrities
By Christopher Calix
Lethe Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59021-267-7
Cover design by Inkspiral Design
246 pages
Four stars

I really liked this book. No, I really enjoyed reading this bo..."


Nice to see your review; I too greatly enjoyed reading the novel and wrote a few lines below.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I love reading your reviews!


Ulysses Dietz | 1648 comments Thank you. I love writing them.


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