In this genre mashup, Raymond Chandler and monster-movie actor Boris Karloff have formed a partnership to investigate mysterious matters in a town run by human and inhuman monsters. Investigator Joh Devlin enlists the pair to work a case that threatens to expose Hollywood's most horrific secrets. It turns out monsters aren't just for the movies.
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.