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.