SUNBURN meets QUEENPIN in this sultry, feminist L.A. noir starring a femme fatale heroine. Jo’s made a career out of taking down terrible men. But when her latest blackmail scheme ends up with a body count, she’s caught between the woman she loves and their enigmatic boss the Lady Upstairs.
I’d picked the hotel for the sting because the bar had one hell of a happy hour—if you liked your drinks cheap and strong, the glasses maybe washed once in the last week. It was down the street from the studios, the right type of place to entice a movie man to meet an obliging blonde for a quick afternoon pick-me-up.
And not the least of my considerations: the St. Leo let me have my choice of adjoining rooms and didn’t mind an early check-in or quick redecoration, for the right price.
By my second drink, the apricot tinted windows were purpling with twilight—happening so early these days—turning the light in the bar a good soft color for sloppy bad decisions. I was waiting on my third when I saw Ellen escorting the mark through the lobby toward the elevator.
She stayed cool, didn’t toss me so much as a backward glance. It was harder to do than it looked. But Ellen kept her eyes firmly on the mark’s face, fingers curled around the patched elbow of his tweed blazer—a gift from one of his grandkids, no doubt, or one of the grown children benefitting from his production company’s rampant nepotism. When I’d researched him for Lou and our mysterious employer the Lady Upstairs, it had been one of the things that sold me: he kept his grabby sons on set, even after numerous complaints had been filed. I’d read that and thought: This one’s perfect.