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Like the hero in a classic Hitchcock thriller, the innocent movie buff at the center of this witty and suspenseful novel finds his ordinary life suddenly transformed when he’s plunged into a harrowing game of intrigue, duplicity, and danger. Spurred into a frantic race from New York to Hollywood to Barcelona and back, he’ll encounter enough hairpin twists, shocking surprises, white-knuckle tension, and sinister characters to give even the master of suspense himself a serious case of vertigo. But in this scenario, the mayhem and murder are all too real.

Self-proclaimed movie geek and divorced thirtysomething Roy Milano lives alone in a cramped Manhattan apartment, toiling as a freelancer to make ends meet. It’s a life perfectly suited to the creator of Trivial Man, Roy’s self-published newsletter—filled with tidbits of little-known Tinseltown lore for the delight of other fringe-dwelling cinemaphiles. And it’s a tantalizing phone call from one such kindred spirit that thrusts Roy headlong into his waking noir nightmare.

“I’ve got The Magnificent Ambersons,” declares Alan Gilbert, host of a homemade cable-TV show about the silver screen, who now claims to possess the rarest of the rare: the long-lost and never-released complete print of Orson Welles’s classic follow-up to Citizen Kane. But when Roy arrives at his fellow movie maven’s abode to sneak a peek at celluloid history, the front door is ominously open, Alan Gilbert is dead, and The Magnificent Ambersons is nowhere in sight. Even though the cops arrest a local drug addict for the murder, Roy knows they’re wrong—because the theft of the movie masterpiece points to a different kind of junkie. The kind Roy knows only too well . . . and the kind he’s certain only he can catch.

But Roy Milano is no Sam Spade, even if he does run into more gun-toting goons, sucker punches, and double-crosses than Bogey on a busy day. And the suspects prove to be anything but usual—including a bodybuilding film fanatic obsessed with bizarre rumors about an A-list actress, a rotund reporter who holds Hollywood in thrall via red-hot Internet dispatches from his parents’ basement, and a starstruck street punk with a thousand voices. And then there’s the transatlantic love triangle that finds Roy caught between his very own eager Gal Friday and a sultry Spanish siren with a stunning secret. But when the bodies start to fall faster than a box-office bomb, Roy must cut to the chase in his perilous quest to save the Holy Grail of cinema—and unmask a killer—before everything fades to black.

From the Hardcover edition.

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