Thursday, December 18, 2014

13 Hollywood Apes by Gil Reavill (4 stars)

About 13 Hollywood Apes

Pages: 310
Published by : Alibi

In a savvy, stylish thriller debut perfect for anyone who loves the crime novels of Michael Connelly or Nevada Barr, Gil Reavill unravels a chilling tale of murder and mayhem among humans and their closest evolutionary relatives—a primate family that may just be too close for comfort.

As a wildfire rages outside the Odalon Animal Sanctuary in the rugged Santa Monica foothills, the retired Hollywood movie chimpanzees housed there are shot and left for dead. When Malibu detective Layla Remington reaches the grisly scene the next morning, she’s deeply disturbed—and even more confused. The victims are not human, so the attack cannot be classified as homicide. Yet someone clearly wanted these animals dead, and executed them with ruthless efficiency. Miraculously, there is one survivor: a juvenile male named Angle.

But as Layla reaches the veterinarian’s office where Angle is recovering, a man with rock-star good looks and a laid-back Southern California attitude swoops in and removes him. And just like that, an unusual case turns truly bizarre. Soon reports surface of ferocious attacks against Odalon employees . . . with Angle as the prime suspect. As a wave of senseless violence reaches its apex, Layla chases a mystery man and his chimp—but everything comes back to that terrible night at the sanctuary.

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Who doesn't love a good mystery/thriller? 13 Hollywood Apes takes the classic format for this genre and rethinks it with chimpanzees as the victims and suspects. 

This isn't a cuddly animal story; it is gritty and heartbreaking. Animals all too often are abused or used by sadistic humans to carry out crimes, yet our society has very few protections in place for the true victim--the animal. If an animal kills someone, we euthanize it. It's procedure. 

Layla Remington must work through the evidence and help redefine how society views the treatment of animals. She quickly finds herself connecting with Angle, the lone ape survivor of a brutal scene where several chimpanzees are murdered.

Even Layla jumps to some conclusions at first. As she becomes closer to Angle and uncovers details about the crime, she fights an uphill battle. Most everyone around her seems determined to take the easy way out on this case; after all, in their minds, it's just a bunch of animals.

At first, Layla seems like one-dimensional, overly strong and brash. Through her involvement with Angle and her father, we begin to see depth. My biggest disappointment was the lack of romance for her--not because it's required in a gritty suspense thriller, but because it's hinted at and never really materializes. Sometimes, Layla seemed completely alone, and I wished for a partner (other than her father, although his character was awesome) who shed more light on her and connected with her struggles.

Overall, I recommend 13 Hollywood Apes to readers who love this genre and are looking for a new twist on it. Although there's plenty of intrigue and suspense, what makes this book memorable are the questions it raises and the emotions it taps.

Rating: 4 stars


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About Gil Reavill

Gil Reavill is a journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. Widely featured in magazines, Reavill is the author of Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting That Unmasked the Mob, as well as Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home and the screenplay that became the 2006 film Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. He lives in New York with his wife, Jean Zimmerman, and their daughter.

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, this book sounds heart-wrenching. I'm sure it will stick with readers for a long time.

Thanks for being on the tour.