Diana Christmas

Diana Christmas, a noir novel published, copyright and written by F. R. Jameson.

Briefly, this is the story of a still ravishingly beautiful former British actress who walked away from her rapidly ascending career twenty years before and of the naïve young reporter who attempts to help her to return. Michael Mallory, the young issue of a late marriage between small town school teachers has been coddled by his mother from birth, but now has decided to expand his life. He moves to London, gains a job at the Classic Cinema Monthly which reports on Cinemas and stars who performed in these ‘Oldies’. Since the journalist assigned to interview Diana is drunk at the time, Michael is given the assignment. Shortly after arriving, he finds himself in bed with her and quite quickly hopelessly in love. Gradually he learns the cause of her unanticipated withdrawal and that the perpetrators of the cause still exist and occupy seemingly prominent positions. Totally enamored and not aware of his naiveté, he decides to rectify the situation and be able, as her hero, to return to his blissful situation. From this moment forward, the story evolves into the noir tale promised with the young journalist being severely beaten, hospitalized and returning to mother, while the lovely Diana and her still prominent acquaintances in the cinema industry proceed successfully. However, the young reporter recovers, returns to the fray and the story progresses to a most interesting climax.

Discussion: The author has set forth, as promised, a tale about a “Screen Siren Noir” accompanied by other characters typical of the genre. The story gradually evolves from a point where this still beautiful woman of another era seduces a naïve young man to aid her return to prominence while attempting simultaneously to use these other characters as all proceed to work their way through an industry well-known for its corruption, duplicity, deceit, treachery and the constant need for proper ‘connections’. The results – mayhem, mystery and murder with several surprises along the way. Specifically characterized, all of the individuals are psychologically compromised and credible as such. The extent of Michael’s naiveté is a ‘bit-of-a-stretch’ but also largely acceptable as part of the tale.

Summary: A well-written noir tale probably more enjoyable for British readers, but interestingly peopled with characters believably manipulative and presenting surprises till the very end.

4* Noir mystery/murder tale, interestingly told with surprises.


The Weight

The Weight ISBN: 9781548323967, Serpentine Publishing, a novel in e-book by .Hubert Crouch.

The book opens with a Prologue in which Christine Connors enters a former chateau overlooking the Mediterranean that now is a 5 star hotel whose rooms start at one thousand dollars a night. She avoids identification by the surveillance cameras and proceeds to the rooms of Jamie Stein where, with a ruse of engaging him sexually, manages to have him inhale an overdose of heroin. She leaves just as unobtrusively. From this introduction, a tale of legal maneuvering, intrigue, cheating, intimidation, deceit and murder develops centering more or less in Fort Worth Texas. A sizeable number of interacting characters are involved. Most prominent are highly regarded defense attorney Jace Forman and ‘good ol’ boy’ personal injury specialist Cal Connors, who has made millions often by not quite legal but so far un-proven means, his daughter/law partner Christine, Jace’s long-time paralegal Darrin McKenzie who is in love with him, Leah Rosen, a young reporter who, with an O.K. from her editor and publisher, does an article exposing Cal’s shortcomings, Michael Randazzo hired by Cal as an ‘intimidator’, Charlene Knox, Cal’s defense lawyer, Jackie McLaughlin a former Austin cop, now a prominent PI, Reginald Cowan, a Brooklyn boy who was offered a far better scholarship to Texas for his law training and stayed on to now serve as the District Attorney when the case comes to trial. He has a history with both Cal and Jace. Another prominent character is Dr. Howell Crimm, an ‘expert witness’ used often by Cal whose testimony is in question as well as several other characters of lesser prominence in the story line.

Discussion: Attempting to offer further material with respect to the characters’ complicated interrelationships, the plots and sub-plots no doubt would be a disservice to the prospective reader. Suffice it to say this is another in the series presented by the author with a ‘carry-over’ of characters and their relationships and does not provide any ‘closure per se’ to the on-going action. Rather, it is a continuance of the series offering somewhat limited legalese and address of the legal portions of the story that leave even the reader who may have only limited knowledge of legal proceedings with questions. However, the pace is excellent providing a thriller/suspense vehicle that will appeal to many readers.

4* For legal thriller/suspense devotees; 3* for more ‘dedicated’ legal fans.