The image of drowned circus cages in the trash-filled canals of Venice, California, both haunts and illuminates famed fantasy and science fiction author Ray Bradbury's rare venture into the mystery field. Like filmmaker Federico Fellini, Bradbury is fascinated by the seedy splendor of cheap carnivals and circuses--"a long time before, in the early Twenties, these cages had probably rolled by like bright summer storms with animals prowling them, lions opening their mouths to exhale hot meat breaths. Teams of white horses had dragged their pomp through Venice and across the fields."
But now it's the early 1950s, and foggy, shabby Venice is the last stop on the circus train for scores of old silent-movie stars and young writers trying to keep their art and their bodies alive. As Bradbury's autobiographical hero, a young writer, pounds out his short stories, someone is killing off the older denizens of the tacky city. The writer joins forces with a quirky detective called Elmo Crumley and a faded screen star to investigates the deaths. Their search begins and ends in one of those iconic, waterlogged cages.
Blending hard-boiled detective fiction with beautiful descriptions of this strange Californian town, Death Is a Lonely Business is well worth investigating. --Dick Adler
A curious mystery by Ray Bradbury. A good read.