Play Him Again. Jeffrey Stone. Riverdale Books and Smashwords E-Books. March 2012. 310 pages. Available at online sites of amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and smashwords.com.
Matt Hudson is running two gigs. First he's an alcohol runner or bootlegger and second his chief fascination, indeed obsession, is the future of movies made with sound. Such is the focus of this very informative and enlightening story.
To begin with, those who run alcohol under Prohibition in the 1920s do so with great duress. A runner might be caught by the police but even worse are other thug runners who are now attacking bootlegger ships with firearms. It's a risky business and it's Matt and the Swede, his partner, who advise all that they must start carrying firearms on their ships or lose thousands of dollars to Mafia thugs.
But the real focus that becomes a mystery is who is producing sound films, who are the powers in the business, and what are each willing and unwilling to do to spread the fire of sound movies, which is just beginning to catch the attention of the public. This novel is obviously well-researched as Matt gives us a superb education in the history of how film developed from the soundless films with famous actors and actresses and the companies behind the new invention of producing sound. Many of the movie moguls claim the latter will never become popular, but it seems that those who know it will have different plans and they aren't always on the up and up.
When Matt's good friend Danny, a con man, is killed, Matt knows he didn't drink himself to the point of driving off a cliff and drowning to death. So he sets about his mission to find out who did it and why. This involves all the parties in a "con" and figuring out who is the ultimate "mark" most probably responsible for Danny's death. In the process, Matt's girlfriend Sylvia is forced to find out how important Matt is to her and how much she will support or reject him.
The novel proceeds at a taut pace, educating and intriguing the reader at every turn of the page. Matt himself faces threats and actual violence, but he is much smarter than his opponents. It turns out that there is no limit to what the powerful will do to force the progress of movie in sound, with their own motivations, techniques, and goon-squad hit men at the forefront of protecting and furthering their focused mission - the almighty dollar!
Fine, fine novel Jeffrey Stone - enjoyable on many levels!