In “Dick Contino’s Blues,” a novella inspired by the real-life entertainer, a serial killer on the loose in West Hollywood gets tangled up with a fake kidnapping; the collection also includes five stories of corrupt cops, goons with guns, and mobsters, all set in the fading glory of 1950s Los Angeles
Nobody plays accordion like Dick Contino. His skilled fingers can find beauty in even the schmaltziest borscht belt favorites, and with his matinee-idol looks he could be a real star. Right now, though, he’s slumming it as the headliner in a Grade Z teenybopper picture called Daddy-O. He’s too good for this movie, and finishing it is going to take him to a very dark place. Daddy-O and Dick Contino are both real, their stories dredged out of the past by James Ellroy, a master of historical crime fiction. In Dick Contino’s Blues he takes us to B-List Hollywood in 1957—a time when movies were cheerful and dirty secrets lurked just off camera. Included along with the novella are five short stories, all in the author’s inimitable tough-bitten style.