Tim Hallinan and THE FAME THIEF

Tim at a reading, picture is from his website

Tim at a reading, picture is from his website

Timothy Hallinan is on tour!
Check the dates here:

Tim will be in


on July 2nd

at Mystery One Books

at 6:00 PM



The-Fame-ThiefThe review of the new book:
Timothy Hallinan
July 2013
Soho Crime

Have you met Junior Bender? Junior is a professional burglar who enjoys his work. He’s never been caught and has plenty of free time to catch up on his reading. He moves from one cheesy motel to the next in order to stay one step ahead of whoever might be looking for him (although it seems that people still manage to find him.) Junior sometimes does PI work for his fellow crooks—often under threat of death or blackmail—since a criminal with troubles can hardly go to the police, can they?
In THE FAME THIEF, the third novel in the Junior Bender series, Junior is called in by Irwin Dressler, a golf pants wearing mafia boss, who is still absolutely terrifying in his 90’s. Junior can hardly say no—no one says no to Irwin Dressler—even though what Dressler wants him to do seems crazy—solve a 60-year-old case involving the ruin of one young starlet’s career. Junior starts to dig, interviewing whoever is even still alive after all these years. Soon people connected to the case start dying of more than old age and Junior realizes there’s more to the story than a few compromising photos. Junior has to find the truth before the killer eliminates everyone who knows anything.

THE FAME THIEF is the third installment in the Junior Bender series, coming soon on the heels of CRASHED and LITTLE ELVISES. Hallinan has crafted a series that has everything I love—witty banter, characters that are so well written they step off the page, and fast-moving, intriguing plots. All three books are laugh-out-loud funny with zingy one-liners that make you wish you had thought them up. If you haven’t picked one of these up yet, I highly recommend that you do!
Erica Ruth Neubauer


And a preview of the interview running in the next issue of Crimespree:

Erica Ruth Neubauer: The Fame Thief, the third book in the Junior Bender series is set to come out in July. What would you like readers to know about the new book? And how would you introduce Junior Bender?

Timothy Hallinan: Junior Bender is a professional burglar who moonlights as a private eye for crooks. If you’re a crook, and someone steals the stuff you just finished stealing, or takes a shot at you, you’re not going to the cops. You’re going to Junior.

He’s been breaking into houses since he was fifteen, but it didn’t become a profession until the night he ran into a real burglar, a veteran named Herbie Mott, who took Junior under his wing and taught him not only the rules of the game but also its principles. (Some burglars do have principles.) He learned his lesson well enough that in 22 years he’s never been charged, or even formally arrested.

Junior is also often usually the smartest guy in the room. That’s the reputation that got him stuck with his new line of work, which he undertakes with some reluctance. As he says in the first chapter of THE FAME THIEF, “Every time I do it I almost get killed.”

Other than his profession, he’s a well-educated middle-class guy, complete with an unhappy middle-class divorce from his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and a 13-year old daughter, Rina, who is the light of his life. And a girlfriend, Ronnie, about whose past he knows practically nothing.

In THE FAME THIEF, Junior is hired by Irwin Dressler, the world’s oldest still-dangerous gangster, to find out who—in 1950—wrecked the career of an upcoming young “starlet,” Dolores La Marr, whom Life Magazine had just named “The most beautiful girl in the world. Without even knowing why Dressler wants him to explore this piece of ancient show-biz history, Junior dives in—and find that some vendettas actually ripen and grow more vicious with age.


ERN: In the new book, there are a lot of characters from old Hollywood. Are these based on people that actually existed, or simply born from your imagination? How do you approach research for your novels?

TH: Most of the show business people who actually show up on the page are fictitious, although they’re based in part real folks. The big exception is George Raft, a onetime star who, in the book, takes young Dolores under his wing. Raft played mostly gangsters under contract to Warner Brothers until the parts he turned down made a star out of Humphrey Bogart. Raft, it was said, couldn’t actually read, and his opinion of a script was based largely on how well or how badly it was read aloud to him. He turned down “The Maltese Falcon,” “Casablanca,” and half a dozen other movies that Bogey grabbed. Raft’s last real job was being a frontman in a Havana casino owned by the gangster Meyer Lansky.

I don’t do much research for anything. I’ve read novels set in, and written in, most decades of 20th-century history, and I suppose those (and in this case, of course, old movies) provide a sort of general feeling for the world of the book. In the center of THE FAME THIEF, we go back in time to the day Dolores La Marr’s life was ruined, and within that flashback we go further back, to the long trip from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Hollywood with her dreadful stage mother. For that section, I just wrote until I realized I didn’t know anything—whether girls wore jeans or what towns the eastern parts of Route 66 ran through—and I simply bounced out of the book and into Google.

In one of the Junior books, CRASHED, I invented a technique for breaking into a house through the front door in broad daylight: Junior is in a refrigerator carton marked SUB ZERO, and he has a delivery truck at the curb. Working through a cut-out in the carton he picks the locks. Then he climbs out of the carton, wheels it into the house, fills it with the stuff he wants, and wheels it back out to the truck. A cop I met at a book signing said a burglar in their area had used that exact method. It kind of worries me.