Book Review: Bogart ’48 by John Stanley and Kenn Davis

Title: Bogart ’48

Author: John Stanley and Kenn Davis

Format: Paperback edition, Dell Books

Published: 1979

bogart48

As it’s been stated here before, I am a reader of particular tastes.  I love mysteries, I love tv/media tie-ins, and I love the era of the early 20th Century.  This review adds something to that list.  I love Humphrey Bogart.  Since I can remember, and that is a serious statement, I have been a fan of the actor who epitomizes for many both the consummate PI as well as the archetypal gangster.  Both onscreen and off, Bogey was a truly fascinating individual who blossomed into a fantastic character in his own right.  This blossoming is something the authors of Bogart ’48 took advantage of and used in all the right ways.

Bacall is away and Bogey is wrapping up shooting on a film in early 1948, when an old friend of Bogey’s is killed, an actor working on a western film.  With it clearly being murder, Bogey is pulled into a mystery worthy of Sam Spade by a call his now dead friend had a chance to make just before being killed.  Hollywood politics and celebrities come out of the woodwork as Bogart works his way up and down, in and out of the lights and shadows that make up the golden era of film making.  What was never a simple murder suddenly involves another person from Bogey’s past, an embittered screenwriter who penned a script with an ominous title-Hollywood Armageddon-that details a massacre of biblical proportions on Hollywood’s biggest night.  A script that he…or someone may be working desperately to bring to life and only Bogart and a band of Hollywood noteworthiest and scoundrels may be able to stop it.

Bogart ’48 hits on every single cylinder. Not only is the portrayal of Bogart realistic- he’s not suddenly transformed into some two fisted over the top hero, but he definitely holds his own- but the authors bring in everyone from John Wayne to Prince Romanoff to Peter Lorre and do it with a style that is exquisite. These aren’t just cameos to fill a book about Golden Age Hollywood. Every real character brought into the mix, right down to a pre Marilyn Marilyn Monroe, has an impact on the story and moves the plot along while also giving us a glimpse at how intense and simultaneously shallow relationships in a world of make believe can be.

The authors make full use of Bogart’s history and background, tying aspects of the mystery into his rather colorful past, and gives the reader a totally well rounded character in the lead.  Again, Bogart is not playing Sam Spade in the pages of this book. He is straight up portrayed 100 percent as himself, tarnish and all. And it makes Bogart ’48 a glorious read because of that.

Not to focus completely on Bogey, the mystery in this book is top notch and well constructed.  With shades of conspiracy, paranoia, and manipulation, the puzzle at the center of this book keeps the reader involved from page to page and wraps up tightly.

Bogart ’48 earns five out of five pages, nailing every cue and keeping the characters and story equally popping and entertaining.

This is a full six out of six bullets on my scale as well.  Bogart is written as not only he lived, but also as any real fan would imagine him. He is very human and that wonderfully infects the rest of the story too.

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