Alice in La-La Land, the second of Robert Campbell's Whistler novels, is noir which is at once of its time--the late eighties--and outside of time altogether.
While having breakfast, watching the street show outside of his favorite greasy spoon, Gentry's and talking literature (Alice in Wonderland) and philosophy (the sound of one hand clapping) with one-armed counterman Bosco Silverlake, P.I. Whistler is approached by your classic noirish dame: both classy and brassy, blond, with a skirt slit up to there and furs slung over her shoulder. She's Nell Twelvetrees and she wants a bodyguard. Whistler's been recommended, you see. And why does this leggy angel need a bodyguard? Nell thinks her husband, late night TV host Roger Twelvetrees, is going to have her killed because she's divorcing him.
Twelvetrees is for sure a psychopath and a sadist, as Whistler soon discovers. But is the sweet Nell really as sweet as she'd have him believe? Or is she yet another hustler with a beautiful facade, like so many others in La-La Land? And who is the mysterious man who keeps turning up, with Twelvetrees' daughter, at the scene of the crime, even in Nell's bedroom?
The mystery is twisty and intricate, full of girls who are really boys who want to keep their boy parts and girls who are really boys who want to lose their boy parts and boys who are really girls...well, let's just say that identity is a flexible thing in La-La Land and that that makes the mystery's solution even more delicious--and disturbing--when it comes.
Also delicious is Robert Campbell's language, which is lyrical and street and--I think--in some cases made up. There are twangie boys and gazoonies and gonifs, and even though I've never heard any of these words before, each is perfect. As are most of the words in the book.
Read Alice in La-La Land. You will be enchanted, you will be disgusted, and you will most certainly feel as if you've fallen down the rabbit hole.