I loved The Long Silence (click to read more) by Irish writer Gerard O’Donovan, and now his LA private detective Tom Collins returns, for another scandal-filled affair among the great and not-so-good in 1920s Hollywood. The Doom List refers to the campaign by the garrulous and ambitious Republican politician who set out to ‘clean up’ what he saw as the Sodom and Gomorrah of Tinsel Town. He is best remembered for the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, informally referred to as the Hays Code, which spelled out a set of industry moral guidelines for the self-censorship of content in Hollywood cinema.
Former city cop Collins has earned a reputation among movie producers and stars as a man who gets things done, but in a discreet way, and here he becomes involved in getting to the bottom of a nasty blackmail case involving one of Hollywood’s rising stars. José Ramón Gil Samaniego is a young man who was to become better know as Ramon Novarro, star of many hit movies, and an heir to the throne of screen heart-throb vacated by Rudolf Valentino after his untimely death. O’Donovan peoples his story with actual real life characters as far as possible, and it is a winning formula. Samaniego is in trouble because there are intimate photographs of him taken a notorious club for homosexuals. Both he and his studio bosses are desperate that these photos and the negatives are found and destroyed.
There is another case occupying Tom’s mind and time. An old buddy from his police days, Thad Sullivan is in big trouble. Already feeling the heat from his senior officers because he refuses to look the other way when they accept backhanders and pervert the course of justice, he now faces another challenge, Some boys exploring a canyon in the Hollywood hills have discovered the corpse of a man, dried out by the fierce heat and unrecognisable. In his pocket, however, is a piece of paper with Thad’s name and police number. Can Tom save his friend’s career?
This is a thoroughly entertaining and intriguing glimpse into the murky world of the early Hollywood stars away from the popping of camera flash bulbs and hyped newspaper articles. Tom Collins is an old fashioned hero – incorruptible and determined. The Doom List is published by Severn House, and is out now. For more information about the author, you can visit his website by clicking the image below.
I had great fun looking up all the real life characters in this novel. Some of them are pictured below. First row, left to right: Roscoe Arbuckle, hugely popular comedian, ruined by a sex scandal. Charles H Crawford, LA mayor and organised crime boss. Douglas Fairbanks, star of many hit movies. Will H Hays, politician and ‘moral guardian’ of the silver screen.
Second row, left to right: Rex Ingram, Irish-born director, writer and actor. Kent Kane Parrot, corrupt lawyer and LA ‘fixer’. Barbara la Marr, dubbed as “The Girl Who Is Too Beautiful”. Joe Martin, an orangutan who featured in several movies.
Third row, left to right: Ramon Novarro, screen heart-throb. Alice Terry, American actress and director. Adolph Zukor, producer and one of the founders of Paramount Pictures.