The Fame Thief (A Junior Bender Mystery)
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THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED, LAUGH-OUT-LOUD THIRD INSTALLMENT
OF THE FAN-FAVORITE JUNIOR BENDER MYTERIES
There are not many people brave enough to say no to Irwin Dressler, Hollywood’s scariest mob boss-turned-movie king. Even though Dressler is ninety-three years old, LA burglar Junior Bender is quaking in his boots when Dressler’s henchman haul him in for a meeting. Dressler wants Junior to solve a “crime” he believes was committed more than seventy years ago, when an old friend of his, once-famous starlet Dolores La Marr, had her career destroyed after compromising photos were taken of her at a Los Vegas party. Dressler wants justice for Dolores and the shining career she never had.
Junior can’t help but think the whole thing is a little crazy. After all, it’s been seventy years. Even if someone did set Dolores up for a fall from grace back then, they’re probably long dead now. But he can't say no to Irwin Dressler (no one can, really). So he starts digging. And what he finds is that some vendettas never die—they only get more dangerous.
I’d been waiting for that shoe to drop for more than a year. “You’ve been busy.” “Attention to detail is essential to success.” She said it almost automatically, as though it were a mantra. “Don’t you find that?” “Sometimes,” I said. I got the pursed mouth of disapproval. “If you don’t, you won’t be in business long.” “I also believe in unprepared improvisation. You can’t always have a plan. Sometimes you have to make your leap and grow your wings on the way down.” “Did you make that up?”
to do it.” “Up to you. Well, the offer stands. And don’t tell Ronnie about it.” “Of course not,” I said, ringing off. I checked to make sure the phone was dead and said, “Debbie just offered to kill somebody for me. For free.” Ronnie’s eyebrows went up. “Anybody at all?” “Why? You got someone in mind?” “Lot of people. But she didn’t make the offer to me, did she? And that brings me to the obvious question. Why did she make it to you? And who dragged you through a pile of burning tires?” So
over the smooth floor toward the living room. I was dreading a sound that would tell me I wasn’t alone, but most of all I was dreading a repeat of that terrible wet noise. At the end of the hallway I chose the right wall, put my shoulder against it, and looked quickly into the end of the room where the couch and window were. Nothing except Los Angeles, gaily glittering away as though nothing bad had just happened. I knew something bad had just happened. I think I would have known it even
Japanese hut and the juniper tree that shaded it, with a stocky little peasant sitting on the ground in front of it, carving a tiny netsuke that was shaped like a partially-open clam shell. I spread my hand flat with the piece dead-center on it. Stinky went after his nose as though it were trying to escape. “Modestly interesting,” he said, sounding like someone swallowing a sock. He reached across the desk. “May I?” “You may not.” I closed my hand over it. “You may not see the really good one,
rolling grass, not a soul in sight. “Good,” he said. “This is the tricky part.” Under the pine, which I identified without thinking about it as a Monterrey Cypress, going brown and probably dying in this dry heat, Tuffy examined the net as Dressler unzipped the little shoulder bag I’d been carrying. “It just lifts up over here,” Tuffy said. Dressler said, “Here,” handing me a tight, white little ball of wadded-up plastic. “Tuffy, get this on fast. Who knows how long we’ll be alone?” The thin