Waldo's Reluctant Case

Bruce Von Stiers

Howard Michael Gould went from a career in advertising to helping produce television shows. He also wrote a little for television. Now Gould has rounded another corner. He has become a novelist.

Last Looks is the debut novel from Gould. It was published by Dutton.

Charlie Waldo is the central character in Last Looks. He is a former LAPD detective who now lives in a secluded, wooded area away from the glitter that is LA and Hollywood. Waldo is a very quirky dude. He has become a minimalist, only allowing himself to have one hundred possessions at a time. Things like if a pair of socks are one item or two give Waldo thought provoking issues.

An old girlfriend shows up at Waldo's place and offers him a job. She wants his help in trying to prove that an actor didn't bludgeon his wife to death. Waldo refuses the offer but later finds out that he has been linked to the case as an investigator anyway.

Alastair Pinch is an award winning British actor who now plays a crusty Southern judge on a television show. He is a brilliant actor with the greatness of Olivier and the drunkenness of Burton. The television studio producing Pinch's show hope that Waldo can prove their star didn't kill his wife.

At first all Waldo wants to do is to distance himself from the case. He really wants nothing to do with investigating a murder. A tragedy in his life, a plot element that is fully revealed later in the novel, drove Waldo to his wooded retreat and he'd like to just get back there. But nothing doing. He keeps getting warned off the case by thugs and mysterious people. And that just peaks Waldo's interest. Is Pinch guilty or does someone desperately trying to make it seem like he is?

The author throws in several interesting characters to interact with Waldo. There's a producer, who may or may not want Pinch found innocent. After all, who in Hollywood actually goes to prison for murder? And won't that make for terrific ratings either way? There is also a rapper / thug dude who may have more than just a casual interest in the case. And sprinkled in the mix are some former cop colleagues of Waldo, along with a fitness maven and an alluring kindergarten teacher.

There are some good twists and turns in the novel. I thought early on that I knew who the killer was. But I definitely was fooled by who the murderer was and the reason they gave. I did figure out some things as the author gave some pretty broad hints about them. But other plot reveals surprised me.

Gould took his insider knowledge of Hollywood and incorporated it into a great mystery novel. Charlie Waldo is funny and quirky and terrific as a reluctant participant in a murder investigation. I don't know if Howard Michael Gould has plans for another Charlie Waldo novel. But I hope he does. I can for see Last Looks as the start of a very successful book series.

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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers