In 1949, a struggling writer--a man very much like the young Ray Bradbury--boards a late night trolley in Venice, California and hears a disembodied voice murmur the words: 'Death is a lonely business.' Shortly afterward, that same young man discovers a body trapped in a cage beneath the waters of the local canal. Convinced of a connection between these events, the narrator/hero--together with a wonderfully characterized detective named Elmo Crumley (named in a nod to noted mystery novelist James Crumley) begins to investigate a series of suspicious deaths among the disenfranchised population of Venice.
Death is a Lonely Business was Ray Bradbury's first book-length foray into classical detective fiction. Two others followed: A Graveyard for Lunatics, in which Crumley and our hero (now a gainfully employed scriptwriter) join forces with special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, and Let's All Kill Constance, a tale of mystery and suspense set against the faded backdrop of Hollywood's Golden Age. All three, together with Where Everything Ends, the never-before-published title story that preceded and inspired them, are now gathered together in a single generous volume that should prove indispensable to Bradbury's large and loyal readership.
Freely acknowledging the influence of the genre's masters (Hammett, Chandler, MacDonald, and Cain), all of these stories successfully transcend those influences, filtering them through their author's wholly unique sensibility. The result is a powerfully nostalgic evocation of time and place, and an unforgettable portrait of a writer in love with language, with movies, and with the transformative power of stories themselves.