Death Is a Lonely Business

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9780553264470: Death Is a Lonely Business

Ray Bradbury, the undisputed Dean of American storytelling, dips his accomplished pen into the cryptic inkwell of noir and creates a stylish and slightly fantastical tale of mayhem and murder set among the shadows and the murky canals of Venice, California, in the early 1950s.

Toiling away amid the looming palm trees and decaying bungalows, a struggling young writer (who bears a resemblance to the author) spins fantastic stories from his fertile imagination upon his clacking typewriter. Trying not to miss his girlfriend (away studying in Mexico), the nameless writer steadily crafts his literary effort--until strange things begin happening around him.

Starting with a series of peculiar phone calls, the writer then finds clumps of seaweed on his doorstep. But as the incidents escalate, his friends fall victim to a series of mysterious "accidents"--some of them fatal. Aided by Elmo Crumley, a savvy, street-smart detective, and a reclusive actress of yesteryear with an intense hunger for life, the wordsmith sets out to find the connection between the bizarre events, and in doing so, uncovers the truth about his own creative abilities.

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Review:

The image of drowned circus cages in the trash-filled canals of Venice, California, both haunts and illuminates famed fantasy and science fiction author Ray Bradbury's rare venture into the mystery field. Like filmmaker Federico Fellini, Bradbury is fascinated by the seedy splendor of cheap carnivals and circuses--"a long time before, in the early Twenties, these cages had probably rolled by like bright summer storms with animals prowling them, lions opening their mouths to exhale hot meat breaths. Teams of white horses had dragged their pomp through Venice and across the fields."

But now it's the early 1950s, and foggy, shabby Venice is the last stop on the circus train for scores of old silent-movie stars and young writers trying to keep their art and their bodies alive. As Bradbury's autobiographical hero, a young writer, pounds out his short stories, someone is killing off the older denizens of the tacky city. The writer joins forces with a quirky detective called Elmo Crumley and a faded screen star to investigates the deaths. Their search begins and ends in one of those iconic, waterlogged cages.

Blending hard-boiled detective fiction with beautiful descriptions of this strange Californian town, Death Is a Lonely Business is well worth investigating. --Dick Adler

From the Publisher:

6 1.5-hour cassettes

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Ray Bradbury
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