Murder Unscripted ($14.95, 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-669-4), and Red Desert ($14.95, 184 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-667-0) are books 1 and 2 of Clive Rosengren’s Eddie Collins Mystery series. Both books were finalists for the Shamus Award, sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America. Book 3, Velvet on a Tuesday Afternoon, will be released on December 1. Set in the Hollywood, the series features part-time actor and full-time private investigator Eddie Collins, a tough guy with a tender heart and a wicked sense of humor.
Murder Unscripted introduces Eddie Collins. When his movie star ex-wife is found dead on the set of her latest movie, Eddie is tasked with finding her killer.
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** Also available in audiobook **
** Click the cover image to order online **
** Also available in audiobook **
Murder Unscripted: “I like this character Eddie Collins. He’s tough, funny and has the classic private eye’s world-weary wisdom. I hope to see much more of him.” —Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series
“Blasting out of a time warp, straight from the 1940s. [Murder Unscripted] is set in modern Hollywood, but it’s old-time California noir, right down to its Bakelite heart [….] luscious.” —Booklist
“The plot purrs along fast and smooth [….] The ending of Murder Unscripted delivers the reader a sweet surprise.” —Mystery Scene
Red Desert: “My friend Clive Rosengren has created a guy I’d like to get to know: Eddie Collins. I wouldn’t mess with him, but you’d want his number in your wallet.” —Tom Hanks
Red Desert: “Besides the standard pleasures of a well-plotted mystery-thriller, the Eddie Collins novels excel in delivering a giggle-fest of Hollywood history and gossip.” —Mystery Scene
Eddie Collins’ part-time actor pursuits take on a new dimension when his ex-wife, Elaine Weddington, turns up dead while filming her latest movie Flames of Desire. The production’s insurance company hires Eddie to represent their interests in the Americana Pictures film. Private eye is his main gig now, although he doesn’t turn his back on acting jobs when they come his way.
Elaine was a star of sorts, though her pictures were B-movies and never up for major awards. Encroaching middle age meant her leading-lady days were numbered, and she worked with a lot of jealous wannabes. Did one of them off her? What about her personal assistant or live-in boyfriend?
While searching through Elaine’s trailer, Eddie finds a list of initials with corresponding phone numbers. As he gradually ticks off the entries, he begins to form an unwelcome, less idealized version of Elaine. Then an assistant director is killed as she is about to share a damning revelation. The quest to identify one set of initials almost puts him in the hospital. Can Eddie handle the truth? Will it set him free, or kill him?
Originally published in 2012.
Hollywood PI, sometime actor Eddie Collins is doing a bit on a sitcom when he receives an SOS from an A-list friend. Mike Ford’s Oscar has been stolen during a home invasion and Ford’s girlfriend has drowned in the swimming pool. Did she surprise the burglar? Whoever it was left behind threatening letters, and Eddie is hired to see if he can unearth their source.
All the dots connect around a movie Ford directed and acted in several years earlier: Red Desert. More than a few people associated with that shoot recall it less than fondly. Is one of them harboring a deadly grudge? Eddie has hired Reggie, an old Army buddy, to do surveillance. Soon Reggie, Eddie’s secretary Mavis, and everyone associated with Eddie Collins and Mike Ford seem to be targets. And smoke from the foothills is encroaching on Eddie’s Hollywood home/office. Is Eddie’s world about to go up in flames?
Originally published in 2015.
Clive Rosengren’s acting career spanned more than forty years, beginning with stage work and ending in Hollywood. Movie credits include Ed Wood, Soapdish, Cobb, and Bugsy. Among numerous television credits are Seinfeld, Home Improvement, and Cheers. He lives in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. To visit his website, click here. Follow him on Twitter (@cliverosengrenauthor) and like him on FB (cliverosengrenauthor).
An excerpt from Murder Unscripted:
I spotted a payphone right outside the main gate, fished around for two quarters, and sacrificed them to Ma Bell. I punched in my office number and Mavis picked up on the second ring.
“It’s your boss, kiddo. What’s up?”
“You got a call from a guy by the name of Chad Wentworth. Vandalia Bond and Casualty. You know him?”
“I don’t know him, but I’ve worked with Vandalia. What did he want?”
“Sounds like he’s got a job for you. Something to do with Americana Pictures.”
She gave me the number and I told her I would check in with her later. After three rings, a very soft voice answered at Vandalia Bond and Casualty. I identified myself and asked for Chad Wentworth. The phone was picked up following a couple of seconds on hold.
“Yes, sir, what can I do for you?”
“I understand you’ve worked for us in the past?”
“Right. A few years back. What’s up?”
“We hold the completion bond on a picture called Flames of Desire. It’s shooting over at Americana Pictures. Are you familiar with them?”
“Absolutely. Sam Goldberg’s studio.”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, he referred you to us. Apparently a death has occurred on the set. There’s a good chance the project is in jeopardy. We’d like to put you on retainer to look into it for us.”
“All right,” I said, taking my notebook from my pocket.
“Goldberg suggested you come to his office so he can get you up to speed. Any chance you can get out there today?”
“I’m on my way.”
“Fine. I’ve got your previous contract in front of me. Is your fee still the same?”
“Very good. Then until you drop by the office, we’ll use our conversation as a handshake. Is that acceptable?”
“Okay by me.” I wrote down the address as he gave it to me. “Who died?”
I heard him shuffling some papers. “One of the stars. Elaine Weddington.”
My pen froze above the slip of paper as I stared at the phone. After a long moment, Wentworth called my name.
I put the receiver back to my ear. “Yes, yes, I’m here.”
“Is there anything else you need from me, Mr. Collins?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, then, I’ll look forward to meeting with you.” He rang off and I stood in shock, the phone hanging limply from my hand.
My knees felt like they were going to buckle. A completion bond company insured a movie, protecting a producer’s investment in case something should go wrong during the production.
Something had definitely gone wrong on this movie. And it resonated deeply with me.
Elaine Weddington was my ex-wife.
An excerpt from Red Desert:
I walked into my office and found some mail on the desk. Bills, mostly, save for today’s edition of The Hollywood Reporter and two residuals. The net total of both would buy me a steak dinner, providing it was a cheap cut and I didn’t order any booze or dessert.
A doorway draped with beads separates my office from my living quarters. As I walked through the strands, I was engulfed by the heat that remained in the studio apartment from the day’s sunlight beating through the south-facing windows. Hitting the light switch and the one for the ceiling fan, I peeled off my shirt and opened the French doors overlooking Hollywood Boulevard. I turned on a large floor fan and put it in front of the windows. It didn’t do much good against the dog days of August, but was better than sitting in dead air.
I punched the remote and flipped the television to a Dodgers game. They were losing to the Giants. I grabbed a beer from the mini-fridge and filled a glass with Mr. Beam to keep it company. After cobbling together a pastrami sandwich, I put it and a bag of chips on a footstool, picked up the copy of the Reporter, and leafed through it. I certainly don’t pretend to have my finger on the pulse of the Hollywood scene, but I try and keep up with who’s doing what to whom in the biz.
As I took a bite of the sandwich, my eye caught a story on one of the inside pages. The headline read: WOMAN FOUND DEAD IN SWIMMING POOL.
The story went on to say that Janice Ebersole, girlfriend of Mike Ford, had been discovered nude, floating in the actor’s Los Feliz swimming pool. It had happened last night. Police said the preliminary investigation was inconclusive. The victim apparently had slipped and struck her head on the edge of the pool. Death appeared to be from drowning.
My sandwich sat untouched in front of me. The story hit home. I knew Mike Ford. We had worked together years ago doing summer stock. Both of us had subsequently come to Hollywood, albeit a few years apart. We’d remained good friends, catching ball games together and enjoying the occasional poker night. He’d even provided me with employment a time or two over the years. A mere month ago, he’d invited me along on a trip to Magic Mountain with his daughter and Janice.
I picked up the remote and channel-surfed until I saw local news footage on the story. On the screen Mike was seen leaving his house on Nottingham and crawling into a black SUV. Reporters hounded him, but he had nothing to say. I was stunned. Mike was a great guy and a fine actor. He’d been handed a couple of good breaks and had capitalized on them to the point where he now commanded top dollar. He’d also gone on to direct some of his pictures. His success as an actor had even garnered a handful of awards, the most noteworthy being the little golden guy called Oscar.
The reporter tossed the story back to the studio and they went to commercial—another irritating shot of a couple sitting in separate bathtubs gazing into a sunset.
I nibbled on the pastrami sandwich, which tasted like Play-Doh. I sipped my beer and absentmindedly surfed through a few channels, finally landing on Turner Classic Movies. All of a sudden, coincidence exploded from the screen. There in front of me was William Holden floating face down in a swimming pool. The scene was from Billy Wilder’s classic, Sunset Boulevard. Norma Desmond’s delusion eventually led to the demise of Holden’s Joe Gillis.
As I listened to Holden’s voiceover, the similarities between reel and real life came cascading into my head. Art imitating reality? Not quite. Unlike Norma Desmond, Mike Ford hadn’t lost his senses. Of that I was certain. What he had lost was a girlfriend.