Celestial Dogs Paperback
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From Library Journal
Russell's first novel showcases Marty Burns, a former child actor turned private investigator, and the seedy side of Hollywood. Unfortunately, the plot, which begins as the search for a pimp's missing girlfriend, puffs up into a mythic battle between good warriors and evil demons. While most readers can appreciate the coarse language, gritty realism, and sardonic humor associated with a sympathetic protagonist, they may balk at the ultimate flight in fantasy. A mixed bag, then, that tests the reader's credibility. Caveat emptor.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A generation ago, Marty Burns was Somebody: the teen star of a sitcom showered with more money, fame, and pubescent nymphets than he could handle. Now his only legacy from Salt & Pepper is jarring grins of recognition from fans who catch it on Nick at Nite (some of whom don't even know it's 30 years old). If you think Marty's Hollywood past is enough backstory for this first novel, though, you couldn't be more wrong, because when Marty-- now a salty-tongued shamus taken in by jaundiced pimp Long John Silver's starry-eyed tale of his true love for Jenny Leo, the lissome girl who disappeared from Silver's personal bed even after he made the principled decision not to take her into his stable--agrees to look for Jenny, he stumbles onto a menace even older and darker than TV syndication. It isn't just that Jenny (ne Janine Lassiter) has already been turned into fodder for L.A.'s snuff industry, here fronted by Laughing Boy Pictures' smiling Jack Rippen on behalf of his new Japanese backers; no, the backers from Yoshitoshi, mystifyingly eager to buy into the Hollywood industry, have plans for several of Jenny's young friends--plans rooted in a fiendish history that stretches back to the 16th century. Enough reincarnations, swordfights, disembowelings, and ritual murders for a whole series that'll never turn up on Nickelodeon. Newcomer Russell asks you to accept an awful lot of dumb luck and demonic samurai for the dubious satisfactions he provides. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Shame on you.
Russell is the author of a short series of books featuring Marty Burns, former child TV star and washed-up private eye. In "Celestial Dogs", Marty is introduced as a likeable drunk, a not-too-terribly sharp detective and a Hollywood namedropper par excellence. Every page is filled with so much LA lore you'd think the author spends his days on a studio backlot with a tape recorder running.
"Dogs" starts off like your ordinary LA potboiler. Witty, wisecracking and jaded PI is hired to locate a stripper for a local pimp. During his investigation, PI is lied to, beaten up, misled and has his body taken over by a demon from Japanese mythology.
You heard me. This ain't Elvis Cole we're talkin' about.
It turns out that the myths are truth and that one particularly bad-bootied demon has already joined the guest list at Spago. Marty and his new girlfriend Rosa find themselves in the middle of this dreamworld trying to protect themselves and the people they care about from things they can barely comprehend.
Jay Russell does wisecracks like nobody's business. His writing is deceptively easy and fluid, making "Celestial Dogs" speed past like a Ferrari, but Russell manages to tell a darned good story. I bought this book because I had read the author's "Brown Harvest" and liked it, but the Marty Burns tales quickly rose to the top of my favorite detective stories list.
If you are put off by a supernatural element in your mysteries, "Celestial Dogs" might not be for you, but if you enjoy a little macabre with your mayhem, you'll love it.
Jay Russell deserves to be more than a well-kept secret.
His first appearance, Celestial Dogs, is set in LA as the skeptical Marty is caught in the crossfire between clans of ancient Eastern demons. Marty battles the worst of human and inhuman natures - deranged producers, rent collectors, evil turtle demons, and his own nostalgia for his wild childhood days. Like a cross between 'Big Trouble in Little China' and an unauthorized biography of the 'Brady Bunch', this is a hilarious, unconventional book that defies easy description.
Russell also writes some good splatterpunk, and even in the Marty Burns series, the feel is less 'noir' and more 'bitter and messy'. They're good fun - visceral, cinematic and surprisingly clever.
St. Martin's, Mar 1997, $21.95, 272 pp.