Cold Desert Sky – Rod Reynolds

No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.

Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the city of angels.

But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins, he finds it leads him right back to his worst fear: legendary Mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can’t shake.

As events move from LA to the burgeoning Palace of Sin in the desert, Las Vegas – where Siegel is preparing to open his new Hotel Casino, The Flamingo – Rod Reynolds once again shows his skill at evoking time and place. With Charlie caught between the FBI and the mob, can he possibly see who is playing who, and find out what really happened to the two girls?

Let’s just start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Rod Reynolds’ books and have been eagerly awaiting this, the third book featuring reporter Charlie Yates who we last saw in Black Night Falling. Charlie is now back in LA on the case of missing starlets Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins. He’s obsessed with tracking down the two women, but quickly falls foul of his old nemesis Bugsy Siegel who gives him an ultimatum that he really can’t refuse.

Or can he?

Rod Reynolds proved with his first two books that he has a deft hand at conjuring up small-town Americana on the page. Here he turns that hand to the larger canvas of 40s Los Angeles and Las Vegas and again we’re sucked into the murky underworld of the mob. Reynolds has a real gift for place and atmosphere, and you almost feel that should you be dropped into Yates’ world, you could find your way around. Not that the California of Charlie Yates is somewhere you’d particularly want to be, not with someone as connected as Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel on the loose…

Cold Desert Sky has it all – a proper Noir feel, great characters and a splendid plot that draws us across the state line to Nevada and into the early days of Las Vegas, just starting on its way to becoming the neon-soaked casino city we know today.

Reynolds’ books just keep getting better and, and they were pretty darn good to start off with. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for poor old Charlie Yates next…

Hugely recommended.

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds is published by Faber & Faber.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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