Actor and comic Belzer, best known for his long-running portrayal of the acerbic detective John Munch on the TV series Homicide and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, fares much better with his second light crime novel featuring himself as the amateur sleuth. Both the plotting and the prose are sharper than in 2008’s I Am Not a Cop! and offer promise that future books may be better still. Just before Belzer leaves New York City for Las Vegas to cohost a charity telethon, Paul Venchus, with whom Belzer once worked as a reporter, calls and asks for his help cracking a conspiracy. Venchus claims the suspicious deaths of a Marilyn Monroe–like actress and her congressman lover were actually murders. After Venchus turns up dead himself, possibly from an alcohol overdose, his girlfriend comes to Vegas to implore Belzer to investigate. Despite a deus ex machina, snappy dialogue and solid pacing makes this a success on its own terms.
–> I Am Not A Cop! by Richard Belzer (now out in paperback)
Those looking for a new crime series starring an author’s fictional alter ego to fill the void left by Kinky Friedman‘s series that ended with Ten Little New Yorkers shouldn’t expect too much from the fiction debut of actor and standup comic Belzer, best known for his role as Det. John Munch in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. When an old friend of Belzer’s, New York City assistant medical examiner Rudy Markovich, disappears under suspicious circumstances, Belzer decides to investigate. After the actor finds a clue referring to four recent deaths, he and Kalisha Carter, the attractive woman his producer assigns to keep an eye on him, dig into those cases with mostly predictable results. Action sequences alternate with the detection, allowing Belzer to show off his martial-arts skills. Hopefully, Belzer’s acerbic screen persona will be more on display in any sequel.