Book Quote:

“As an LAPD cop, I’d dealt with rich Hollywood dudes, bullies who when oily charm wouldn’t cut it resorted to threats and insults. I’d encouraged the broken and the badly bent, ready to eat the gun but for the fear of what that might do to the face, and I’d run up against the smarmy morons who hit the jackpot with the eighth remake of a comic book, and so equated money with brains and arrogance with charisma, and I’d seen the beautiful young women in their fuck-me high heels who encouraged the morons in their delusions.”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Guy Savage (JUN 29, 2009)

I love it when authors just seem to get better and better, and this is certainly the case with Anne Argula’s third novel, Krapp’s Last Cassette. But to be honest, it’s hardly this author’s third book. Anne Argula is the pen name adopted by veteran author Darryl Ponicsan who wrote The Last Detail back in 1971. But that said, this is Ponicsan’s third novel writing as Anne Argula, and it’s the best so far.

Homicide My Own introduced menopausal Spokane detective Quinn, and the second novel, Walla Walla Suite finds Quinn divorced and working as a PI in Seattle. Quinn is an engaging protagonist; intelligent, cynical and tough, she scrapes a living while thinking about rebuilding her personal life.

In Krapp’s Last Cassette, Quinn is hired by a wealthy Hollywood screenwriter, Alex Krapp. It seems that Krapp has written a screenplay for HBO based on the best-selling memoir of a fifteen-year-old kid named Danny. The memoir details how Danny suffered hideous sexual abuse at the hands of his sicko, middle-class parents, how he was used by a ring of pedophiles, and how he finally managed to run away and seek help. But while the book is a bestseller, there will be no happy ending for Danny as he is dying of AIDS. Krapp’s problem is that he must authenticate the boy’s existence for HBO, but Danny only communicates via phone–supposedly for safety reasons. Although Krapp has never seen Danny, over the course of their relationship, he’s developed a strong attachment to the boy, and he’s collected cassette tapes of all of their conversations.

Frankly Danny’s story stinks. It’s not just that the story hits every emotionally manipulative button I can think of, but the circumstances of Danny’s seclusion just don’t make sense. Danny, supposedly, is being cared for by a dedicated suicide hot line volunteer named Celeste, and an AIDS afflicted doctor named Vic. Even while Krapp tells Danny’s emotionally charged story (and I could almost hear the Rocky theme song in the background), Quinn begins to smell a rat. Quinn and I were on the same page for this one; the story smacks of soap opera fiction at every twist and turn.

Quinn, who is attracted to Krapp, takes the assignment and goes back to Seattle to hunt for Danny. Since Danny is supposedly whisked to hospital with alarming regularity, Quinn thinks it shouldn’t be too difficult to find Danny or his reclusive keepers. But Quinn discovers very quickly that key points to the story can’t be confirmed, and to complicate matters, some of the stories of Danny’s abuse are uncannily similar to the story of Randy Merck who made an ignoble appearance in Walla Walla Suite. Quinn finds herself doing something she never imagined doing–visiting Merck in prison, and just as everything seems unfathomable, the situation gets worse.

Krapp’s Last Cassette is much more than a mystery. The novel also explores the pathological, delusional lengths humans will go to in order to continue to believe in the implausible, and while Quinn may not fall for the Disney/tooth fairy option, she is vulnerable when it comes to stories about omnipotent evil-doers. Quinn is a marvelous character—unemotional, as tough as nails, and with a sense of humour to boot. Roll on number four….

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 3 readers
PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books (March 24, 2009)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
AMAZON PAGE: Krapp’s Last Cassette
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Fan Site for Anne Argula
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read a review of Walla Walla Suite


June 29, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Sleuths Series

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