The plot, as per usual with Newman, is an artful farrago of outlandish events and freakish set-pieces, whose manifold pleasures I will not spoil ... While it tracks Karloff’s film career closely (and cleverly), Something More Than Night rather fudges Chandler’s writing history: though set during the mid-to-late ’30s, the story references four of the author’s novels, the first of which was only published in 1939. But this is a quibble since Newman’s stitching of the fictive history of Pyramid Pictures into the known reality of ’30s Hollywood is generally quite deft and often laugh-out-loud funny ... Junior’s gloating prattle is so convincingly silly, so richly evocative of every Hollywood satire...that one half-expects him to boast that he can hire a hack off the street to give him 'that Raymond Chandler feeling.'
Beneath the Gothic extravagance of its plot, the book’s success rests on a foundation of seamlessly integrated research and convincing, empathetic characterizations. Newman’s Karloff is a vulnerable, thoroughly decent figure who will go through many changes and emerge more human than before ... In a clear, level voice, he guides us through a midnight world that is darker and infinitely stranger than his own literary imaginings. It is a journey well worth taking.
Narrated in appropriately Chandleresque style by Chandler himself, the book is a hell of a lot of fun. The banter between Chandler and Karloff (the pair really did attend the same school) is utterly charming, as is their friendship, which is explored in a rich backstory to the events in the novel. And the story? A convoluted, over-the-top, and deliciously twisted blend of hard-boiled mystery and horror: everything we expect from Newman, who writes as though he is having simply the best time in the world.
... a genre-bending mystery that twines meticulously researched history with the unabashedly campy tropes of early sci-fi and horror ... a madcap plot ... Though the narrative can feel disjointed, jumping between narrators and timelines, Newman successfully integrates real historical figures into a tale that’s equal parts monster movie and detective noir, abounding with witches, murderous clowns, Frankenstein’s monsterlike creatures, and brooding gumshoes. The result is both an homage and a glorious reinvention, perfect for those nostalgic for the pulpy genre fiction of the past.