Dead and Not So Buried, by James L. Conway (ISBN: 978-1-60381-866-7, 336 pp., $15.95) introduces a new hard-boiled detective: Gideon Kincaid. Gideon’s stomping ground is Hollywood, with its egomaniac directors and producers, pampered stars (and their pets), and at the bottom of the pecking order: the almost-rans–the actors who just didn’t get the breaks. Now one of them is out to break some faces and much, much worse.
Gideon is the only one who can stop him.
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To schedule an interview with James L. Conway, please contact Jen Richards at Over the River Public Relations: Jennifer@otrpr.com, (201) 242-9637.
“VERDICT Screenwriter Conway hits the ground running with this entertaining, debut Hollywood potboiler with a likable PI and tongue-in-cheek humor. It’s a clever mystery with one more satisfying twist at the very end. Great fun.”
“Mr. Conway’s Hollywood is alive with betrayal, greed, lust, and all the basilar passions that have typified Tinsel Town since the first silent film. His characters breathe on the page and are enlivened with emotions and desires that are nearly palpable. Add frequent plot twists that are capped by a satisfying ending, and you have a mystery novel of the hardboiled school that is sure to keep even the most ardent reader guessing.”
—The New York Journal of Books
“A corpse to some, is worth killing for. Dead and Not So Buried is a fast paced thriller mystery from James L. Conway, following Detective Gideon Kincaid as he must search down the remains of a dead movie star of decades ago and find the people who want it. An unusual plot that sprawls all throughout Hollywood, Dead and Not So Buried is an excellent pick for community library suspense and thriller collections.”
—The Midwest Book Review/Small Press Bookwatch
5 out of 5 Stars: “Dead and Not So Buried is a non-stop detective thriller. It’s entertaining, it’s creepy and it will have you turning pages to see what will happen next. I loved the character of Gideon and hope to see more of him in the future…. Dead and Not So Buried gave me everything I could have wanted from a PI/detective thriller. If I had to do comparisons, it’s darker like a Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly and it’s really good like those too, but yet it has comedy to it as well.” Read more …
—Crystal, My Reading Room
“Dead and not so Buried” is a quirky, fun read. A true who-dun-it with off the wall characters and just enough humor thrown in to make it different from other mysteries …. This mystery has all the markings of a bestseller. James L. Conway proves with his first novel that he knows how to write a great mystery with a likeable lead character that leaves his readers wanting a sequel or maybe a series following the antics of Gideon Kincaid.”
—Jodi Hanson for Suspense Magazine
“Conway is to the ego-crazy world of Hollywood what Carl Hiaasen is to Florida’s wacky underbelly. The exploits of Gideon Kincaid explode into an action-packed page-turner that is nothing short of hilarious.”
—Rick Berman, writer & executive producer of Star Trek
“Dead and Not So Buried is good and goofy, comfortable as an old shoe and fresh as a daisy…I raced right through it, never quite knowing where Conway would take me next, laughing all the way.”
—David Jacobs, creator of Dallas and Knotts Landing
“A fabulous read! If you loved L.A. Confidential or are a fan of Hammett, Chandler and Spillane, you are going to love this thriller—a page turning tour de force that combines mystery, murder and mayhem with razor-sharp humor. Conway’s ingenious plot with its show business milieu has more twists and turns than a bent corkscrew and his shocking dénouement will leave you begging for a sequel.”
—E. Duke Vincent, author of Mafia Summer, The Camelot Conspiracy
Hollywood is rocked after the remains of one of the most idolized movie stars of the ’60s are stolen. The thief chooses Gideon Kincaid to deliver the ransom, forcing the PI and ex-cop to unravel a master plan that will include extortion, blackmail and murder.
While trying to stay one step ahead of his nemesis, Gideon is led on a harrowing roller coaster ride through sun and sin-drenched Hollywood. The dead beauty is not Gideon’s only concern; he must also contend with a few live ones. First there’s the tough-as-nails cop assigned to the case—Gideon’s bitter ex-wife. Then there’s the gorgeous starlet he must protect. Unfortunately they have a history that puts her in jeopardy. Finally there’s Gideon’s assistant, the adorable and adoring Hillary, whose involvement in the case endangers them both.
As the body count mounts and the madman’s crimes grow ever more audacious, Gideon finds himself in a desperate race against time. Can he put a stop to this crime spree before Gideon himself ends up dead and very buried?
Says Conway, “For a villain I chose someone from the “other” side of Hollywood—the angry resentful side. For every famous TV and movie star there are scores of other actors passed over, rejected, fired. Like our villain Roy Cooper. I know Roy Cooper. I’ve worked with many actors just like him. Best looking guy in high school. Star of all his college plays. Then he gets to L.A. and goes to his first casting call. The room is filled with guys who look just like him. Just as handsome. Just as talented. Just as full of themselves. And they look around and think, WTF?! They don’t get that first role. Or the next. They go to acting classes. They network. Do everything they’re told to do. And finally get cast. This is it, they think. My big break. But no. That great role leads to nothing. Back to the cattle calls. The agents who never call back. Often they leave show business and get real jobs. And in this case one of them finally does what most of them dream about. He decides to get even.”
James L. Conway has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in Hollywood as a writer, producer, director and studio executive. James lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters. Dead and Not So Buried is his first novel. You can find him on the Web at Jameslconway.com.
Keep Reading for an excerpt:
Once a castle stood here, battlements reaching into the California sky. Next to a London train station. And a French farmhouse. And an African village.
Twentieth Century Fox’s back lot was home to a thousand movie sets and a million dreams. Bad times forced the studio to sell most of its back lot in the sixties, and now it’s home to office buildings, hotels, shopping centers and condominiums.
I couldn’t drive into Century City without remembering the sword fights, barroom brawls, pratfalls and ankle-raised kisses that were Hollywood. Not without wishing I could turn back the clock.
Winslow’s building was thirty-eight stories of expensive glass and steel. On a clear day I’m sure you could see from the ocean to the downtown skyline. From my one-bedroom unit you could see a Taco Bell and Phil’s Office Furniture.
I had pulled into the circular drive, rolled down my window, and was hoping to talk the doorman into letting me park my car in front when I heard it.
The scream. Shocked. Desperate. Final.
I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye, followed by a pulpy thud.
The body landed only a few feet from my car. I leaped out and rushed to the broken, bloody mess. The jumper landed face down. But I knew who it was. I recognized the snakeskin cowboy boots and luau shirt.
The doorman, a young redheaded kid, muttered “Jesus fucking Christ,” and threw up in a bed of roses. A moment later the security guard—early twenties, officious, cop wannabe—came running out to see what happened. He didn’t puke, but he turned ghost white and leaned against a tree for support.
I scanned the building; saw nothing suspicious on any of the balconies. Not that I expected to. The only way to know if it was suicide or murder would be to get into that condo. I slipped past the still reeling doorman and security guard and into the lobby.
There’s no directory in these high-class buildings, but a list of the occupants could usually be found on the security desk. I found it beneath a well-thumbed Hustler magazine. Winslow was in 2808. I pressed the up button and waited. There were three elevators. Above each elevator was an indicator telling you what floor it was on. Elevator one was on nine, going up. Elevator two was stopped on thirty-one. Elevator three was on six, headed down.
As I waited I saw Elevator two start to move. Thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-eight …
It was stopped on twenty-eight. Was someone getting on? Someone from Winslow’s apartment? It started moving again. Twenty-seven, twenty-six, twenty-five …
DING. Elevator three arrived. The door slid open. It was empty.
Twenty-four, twenty-three, twenty-two …
Winslow’s high dive could have been a simple suicide. Especially if he realized I was on to him and he was afraid of going to jail. Or it could have been a murder, in which case, time was of the essence. Someone could still be in Winslow’s apartment. I should get on the waiting elevator and get my ass up there.
Twenty-one, twenty, nineteen …
Besides, the cops could show up any second. If I had any chance to check out the condo before the boys in blue slapped up the yellow police tape, it was now or never.
Eighteen, seventeen, sixteen …
Or someone could be on Elevator two. The one who pushed Winslow out that window.
Fifteen, fourteen, thirteen …
The one who kidnapped Christine’s bones, stole my car and owed me big time.
Twelve, eleven, ten …
I let the door to Elevator two close.
Nine, eight, seven …
I pulled my Glock out its holster, took up a position beside the elevator.
Six, five, four …
I never shot anyone on an elevator before, but there was a first time for everything.
Three, two, one …
The door opened. I spun into the doorway, gun ready. It was empty.
I hate when that happens. All that wasted adrenaline. All those extra heartbeats. I punched the button for twenty-eight and began the ride up.
Why had it stopped at twenty-eight? Had someone gotten on at thirty-one and off at twenty-eight? Had they called the elevator at twenty-eight and changed their minds? Had it really stopped at twenty-eight at all? Maybe I just thought it had stopped because I was so focused on Floor twenty-eight.
DING. The door opened. I stepped into the corridor. It was empty. I hurried to 2808, tried the door. Locked. The lock was a Schlage—a simple pin tumbler type—and I picked it in about twenty seconds. Pulling my gun again, I stepped into the dead man’s condo and listened.
I heard the ticking of a clock. But no footfalls. No clothes rustling. No voices. Nothing suspicious. I closed the door and stepped into a large living room.
There was a leather couch that looked comfortable and two Art Deco chairs that didn’t. In the center of the coffee table was a sculpture of a naked woman spread-eagled over a martini glass. Two of my favorite things, I’ll admit. But this thing was way too in your face for me.
A bookcase covered the far wall. A cursory glance revealed everything from Molière to the latest Lee Child. And multiple copies of Winslow’s three books.
The centerpiece of the room, though, was a truly spectacular view. I could see from the ocean to Orange County. The sliding glass door was open. I stepped out on the patio and looked down to see Winslow’s splayed body directly below. This was his launching pad. I looked around and saw nothing out of place, no sign of a struggle. In the distance I heard the whine of an approaching police car. I didn’t have much time.
I did a quick search of the dining room and kitchen. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for. But if Winslow had killed himself, he might have left a suicide note—or so I hoped. Or Christine’s bones. Or the two million bucks.
Winslow must’ve had a great cleaning lady or was totally anal. Maybe both. The place was spotless. I followed a hallway past very cool movie posters of some of my favorite mystery classics: The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Double Indemnity. And then I heard it. A THUNK. Like something being knocked over. The sound came from an open doorway ahead. Then another noise, a CREAK. Someone was in there.
Maybe someone with a gun, like me. I decided to go in low. I took a deep breath to steady myself then I dove into the room, rolled, came up Glock first and found myself face to face with a pair of eyes. Yellow eyes. Set in a gray face. A cat’s face. Sitting on a desk in the middle of the room. But he didn’t sit for long. All four of his feet started spinning, his claws skating over the desk’s polished mahogany; then he was airborne, flying over my head and out the door.
Feeling foolish, I rose to my feet and surveyed the room. The desk was flanked by two filing cabinets, and the walls were hung with more movie posters. Christine Cole posters: Deadly Ransom. Femme Fatale. Never Again. Blue Moon.
There was a computer on the desk. It was on. Words glowed on the monitor, begging to be read.
I’m sorry. Forgive me.
Not much of a suicide note from a man who made his living writing. If he had written it. Anyone could have typed in those words.
I wanted to search the desk and filing cabinets, but first I wanted to make sure no one else was in the condo. I left the office and followed the hallway to Winslow’s bedroom.
This guy must’ve been a real lounge lizard. He had a mirrored ceiling, king-sized bed and emperor-sized TV. A bureau sat next to the big screen. On it was an alarm clock, nothing more. Across from the bureau was another bookcase holding a vast collection of DVDs. It looked like Winslow also owned copies of all his shows. There were a ton of Payback tapes and two other DVDs, Dead Run and Shadow Chaser, which I assumed were pilots or Movies of the Week he wrote.
Like so many Hollywood types, he had a wall lined with eight-by-tens of him and every famous person he could round up.
I hit pay dirt in the master bath. A huge marble tub dominated the room, and the tub was filled. Not with water, but bones. The bones were arranged to form a skeleton. There was a necklace around the neck, a bracelet around a wrist and a diamond ring on a finger. Nice to finally meet you, Christine.
Okay. Bones, suicide note … If I could find the money we’d have a pretty strong case for suicide. But before I had the chance to look farther, I heard the sound of the front door opening and a voice saying, “No, he lived alone.”
The doorman or security guard. Shit.
A second voice, tired and male, said, “He have any visitors tonight?” A cop’s question. That was actually good news. The first cop to arrive is only supposed to secure the scene and then tape the door until the detectives arrive.
I stepped back into the bedroom as the doorman or security guard answered, “Not that I saw. But I only came on duty half an hour ago. You want, I’ll call Ned. He had the security desk before me. Maybe he saw someone.” Okay, it was the security guard.
I slipped into the walk-in closet, silently slid the door shut as the cop said, “Just give me his number. One of the detectives will call him.”