Now Bolton has written a sequel, The Syndicate, which opens in 1947 with his reluctantly decent fixer, Jonathan Craine, having happily escaped the Dream Factory and living a quiet life on a farm with his young son. But then mobsters turn up on a mission to coerce him into investigating the murder of the celebrity gangster Bugsy Siegel – a real-life, unsolved crime that Bolton has co-opted for his story. Craine finds himself back in Tinseltown, and when he's not bumping into Bogey and Judy, Gable and Mitchum, he's trading insults with a gorilla-like mob babysitter named Abe... Bolton's excellent novels are not just skilful evocations of the era but have a genuine darkness at their heart; there is more to them than the ersatz feeling of some other modern-day takes on Forties noir, which feel too much like the author is simply regurgitating The Black Dahlia. Bolton manages to convey something of the redemptive magic of the movie business, despite the misery he shows it to have entailed.
Again, Bolton skilfully weaves fact with fiction, as the 1947 Siegel murder is one of the town’s most famous unsolved crimes...This is a razor-sharp evocation of the links between the movies and the mob and cements Bolton’s promise as a master of vintage Hollywood noir: it reeks of James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential.
His debut, The Pictures, was an incisive noir thriller set in this milieu, and The Syndicate (Point Blank, £14.99) is just as good...The unravelling of a connection between Hollywood and the criminal world is adroitly done, and the period language never sounds a false note.