LOSER’S TOWN by Daniel Depp

Book Quote:

“What Potts hated mainly, though, was that you were forced to pretend people knew what they were doing when they clearly didn’t. You look out the window at the faces hurtling past and they give you no reason for hope. Whizzing past goes a collection of drunks, hormonal teenagers, housewives fighting with their kids, hypertense execs screaming into cell phones, the ancient, the half blind, the losers with no reason to keep living, the sleep deprived but amphetamine-amped truck drivers swinging a gazillion-tonned rig of toilet supplies. Faces out of some goddamned horror movie. One false move and everybody dies.” 

Book Review:

Reviewed by Guy Savage (MAY 02, 2009)

Loser’s Town is the first novel from Daniel Depp and the first in a series of David Spandau mysteries. Now I am going to get the nauseating stuff over with first: yes, Daniel DEPP is the half brother of Johnny Depp, and according to some internet sites, there are some unpleasant assumptions that having a famous sibling carries clout in the publishing world. When it comes to carving out accomplishments in the world, it must be a pain in the arse to have a phenomenally famous sibling.


Daniel Depp is a producer and screenwriter. Don’t ask me what he’s done because I have no idea, so let’s talk about the novel, Loser’s Town, which has a terrific sense of place. Depp seems to know Hollywood, and Loser’s Town is at its dingy best when the author tackles the sordid underbelly of those stinking rich celebrities and their decadent lifestyles.


The novel begins with two bizarre, none-too-bright characters named Potts and Squiers driving to an address on Wonderland Avenue. For anyone who knows anything about Hollywood, the destination is enough to give you chills, and of course, the novel does not disappoint on this score. As Potts and Squiers drive to Wonderland Avenue, we sense that their mysterious mission has some connection with an ugly crime, and a feeling of dread builds. The author cleverly manages to blend the build-up with a subtle black sense of humour as a hostile, surreal conversation between Potts and Squiers takes place:


“Squiers saying that word, perished, really irritated the hell out of Potts. He was lying, he’d heard it somewhere on the news, and the newscaster had said perished. Squiers didn’t even know what it meant, where the hell would he get off using a word like that. Potts decided to nail him on it.”


With a very strong beginning, the novel then introduces David Spandau, the novel’s protagonist. Spandau is a former stunt man, and depending on who you talk to, Spandau is either a has-been or smart enough to get out of the stunt biz and morph into a private detective. Spandau works for Coren Investigations, an agency that specializes in protecting the glittering lives of annoying celebrities. In Loser’s Town, Spandau is contacted by a particularly petulant star, Bobby Dye, who’s about to break into superstar status with his latest film.


Bobby Dye is an impossible client. He’s temperamental, egotistical, and what’s more important, he’s being blackmailed, and this is where Spandau fits in….


Loser’s Town is at its best when describing the tawdriness of Hollywood. Here Hollywood is presented as the Tinsel Town with cheap glitter covering some rather ugly, vicious people–people whose values gravitate around the clothes they wear and who they sleep with. There are some great characters here–including Pookie, the agency’s secretary who “believed in spiritual redemption through clothing.” Since this is the first in a series of detective novels, the narrative also includes details about Spandau’s personal life. This brings us to Spandau’s ex-wife Dee and the horse ranch. These parts of the novel are the weakest sections even though they may act as a balance–an antidote if you prefer–to the nasty side of Hollywood. Somehow these sections did not seem so authentic and jarred with the novel’s overall atmosphere. Just think of the contrast as hanging out in a strip joint all day and then popping into Disneyland for lunch and you will get the idea. Give me the lowlifes in the Voodoo Lounge anytime. Still, in spite of this minor flaw, I think noir fans have a new name to look for: Daniel Depp and his Spandau series.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 31 reviewers
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 3, 2009)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
AMAZON PAGE: Loser’s Town : A David Spandau Novel
EXTRAS: Excerpt








May 2, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Debut Novel, Noir, Sleuths Series

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