Review: ‘The Hellraiser of the Hollywood Hills’

When some low-life malware from the wrong side of the Internet comes after your fancy laptop, you call for McAfee antivirus software. When some Tinsel town ne’re-to-wells hassle your hot teen recording artist, you call for Kerry and Terry, the McAfee twins.

They have red hair, a pink Harley and a street-wise attitude seasoned with more wisecracks and putdowns than the law allows. At 25, they’ve already been around the block a few times (when it comes to crime fighting) because they run Double Indemnity Investigations of West Los Angeles.

When Bethany (aka “the gum-pop phenom”) walks in front of their camera in disguise during a routine stakeout of an apartment in the bad part of town, she jumps to the conclusion the twins are “stinking paparazzi.” Just moments earlier, Kerry had been thinking how well they blended into the neighborhood in their trashed rental car, just a couple of “harmless crackheads or hookers making an honest living.”

A fight ensues—and without giving away why the three women end up at a no-tell motel that smells “like the place where mildew goes to die”—the story is soon racing like a Harley out of hell through a plot jam-packed with twists, turns and hijinks. It’s a plot to die for.

And people are dying, mostly around Bethany, and as a discerning reader, you might ask if “psychopathic killer” ought to be added to the rich and spoiled singer’s long list of issues. Bethany’s on the run and while the twins are chasing her the cops—who don’t see the humor in this caper—are trying to pin the murders on Kerry and/or Terry.

The snap, crackle and pop you hear while reading “The Hellraiser of the Hollywood Hills” is not your breakfast cereal, it’s Jennifer Colt’s smart, high-energy writing. The characters, while a bit over the top at times in a good way, are memorable even though they aren’t the kind of people you’ll have over to dinner, and there’s plenty of snappy dialogue for everyone.

It’s nice to see the McAfee Twins back in their fourth very enjoyable novel that will keep you guessing until the last page.

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Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden of Heaven,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”