"You give your mouth to evil,
And your tongue frames deceit." -- Psalm 50:19
I found Frames in a most unusual way. I'm a big fan of Loren D. Estleman and picked up a copy of the second book in the Valentino series, Alone. Utterly charmed by that story, I pulled my reading temporarily to a halt mid-way through and headed out to find Frames. The back story for Alone seemed just too good to be true. I had to find out more. I'm sure glad that I did.
If you are looking for an action thriller with a hard-boiled detective in a noir style, this book won't appeal to you. But if you have a fondness for Hollywood, the history of the movies, the silent movie era, and a romantic mystery filled with outrageously good humor, Frames will charm you for sure.
On the surface, Frames can feel like fluff . . . but beneath the almost self-satirical humor lies a delightful plot, a gag environment, and a Keystone Kops-like approach to detection that fits closer to Stephanie Plum than to Sherlock Holmes.
Be warned that the murder mystery is simply there to move the plot along. If you like difficult whodunits, this book also isn't for you.
To me, the humorous mystery is the most difficult kind of book to write. Mr. Estleman carries it off like the pro that he is. He's having so much fun with this story that you cannot help but smile at the plot and in his obvious pleasure in writing the book.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.