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Edward Wright

Orion £10.99 tbo

Reviewed by Peter Guttridge

Clea's Moon introduces another new series protagonist and another prize-winner. US journalist Edward Wright won the CWA's Debut Dagger Award 2001. You can see why. This is an impressive, confident debut. What's particularly impressive is the way that Wright recreates LA in the 1940s. The novel is heavy with the sights and sounds of the city: from the neon-lit piers to Central Avenue's jazz joints; from the wealthy enclaves in the Hollywood Hills to the artists' colonies in the secluded wooded canyons. Then there's Hollywood. Wright's main protagonist is a relic of pre-war B movie westerns. Then he was Sierra Lane, hero to countless youngsters. Now, after two years in prison, he's John Ray Horn, blacklisted by the studios and obliged to make ends meet by collecting debts for his former Indian costar, Joseph Mad Crow. Horn and Crow make an engaging duo and Wright plots the story - girl in obscene photos on the run, old friend killed - convincingly enough. It's the atmosphere I like best, though. More, please.