Living a double life can be dangerous, and in Hollywood where everyone knows your business, even the smallest of mistakes become deadly.
In Below The Line by Brian Tobin, we follow along with a group of people, interconnected with just the smallest of lines. Martin Oals had been lucky early in his life in Hollywood; he had some great small parts in some of the most popular shows. While not a huge celebrity, recognition still came from those looking for stars in every face they saw. In between the parts he tended bar, and his hope was to become a producer.
Life does not always work out as we plan. Martin’s grandiose plans required money, so drugs also came into play. He was careful though; his vehicle was the only place he ever carried them, and only in the trunk. He never dealt from his home and he stayed beneath the radar. Always looking for the elusive buck, he thought he could grow his own stash, and when an opening came with a producer offering money to help set him up, for a part of the money, he jumped in full bore. Using a friend, Squeak, one of his best friends from high school, he felt as though he was finally in the big leagues.
Enter Henry Voght, a police officer with a bent for dirty law. While covering a known drug dealer, Martin comes into his field of view. Henry is intrigued and begins to obsess about how he can get a piece of the pie in this ever-growing connection of people. As each of the characters begin a strange dance of who gets the money, an unhealthy thought takes over. Murder and mayhem follow and suddenly it is every man for himself. Will the police find the killer, or has the cover-up done the job? Who will end up with the drugs and money? In a race to be first, will further mayhem follow?
Tobin has written an interesting whodunit and set it in Hollywood with the cast of characters you can understand. The thought process is something of a fantasy and yet something you would expect coming from a group of egotistical people, a bit jaded by their notoriety. Holding on to the brass ring in a city where stars rise and fall on a whim, digging below the line for a new and interesting source of money only makes sense. His characters are well written and just a bit diverse.
He does a good job of bringing the drug scene to life, although it is seems a bit soft for what you would actually expect. But then again this involves the Hollywood influence. His characters react in different ways to the unexpected, revealing a dark and sad look at how life goes on.
I would recommend this book to the mystery buff. The story is interesting and the interplay between the characters keeps the pace at an even speed. This would be a great book for a reading group, and would engender some good dialogue.