“Dead West” is a story of films and family, devotion and deception, danger and redemption. It is part of Goldman’s series that features Nils Shapiro and Stone Arch Investigations, and new readers will find any necessary background information contained within the narrative. Beverly Mayer is worried about her grandson whose fiancé just died in Los Angeles. She is afraid that he has fallen in with the wrong crowd in Hollywood and is squandering the family fortune.
The story unfolds in Shapiro’s first person narrative. He talks directly to readers, and he talks to himself — a lot; he even talks to himself when he is in a coma. He describes himself as a justice freak with an intrinsic need to find the truth. The plot is conversation driven, so readers hear what Shapiro says to people and what they say to him. The characters are complex, and relationships are well developed. People and details from previous books are seamlessly integrated into this story.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles and conducting a quick investigation, Shapiro immediately recognizes that the fiancé had been murdered and knows who did it, but of course he does not share that with readers. The story has a SoCal vibe, of course, with weather very different from Minnesota as well as unique L.A. geography, commerce, traffic, and famous movie culture. This is a town where everything is for sale, houses do not have basements, and everyone has an idea for a series, including Shapiro.
Goldman seamlessly resolves complications from the past while keeping readers involved in the current case. I received a review copy of “Dead West” from Matt Goldman, Macmillan Publishing, and Forge Books. This is not a “formula” series, not just the same old plot but with different names. The characters are familiar and yet change and grow over time; every book is unique, readable, and compelling with humor as an added bonus. And, this one has a very interesting way to hide a safe.