Review

Let's All Kill Constance

by Ray Bradbury



There's a new Bradbury book out.

Oh...I'm sorry. Are you still here? You need to know more than
that? Well, I'm not really qualified to say more than that. Or, if
I am qualified, let's say I'm not worthy. When I opened the manila
envelope and LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE fell out, with the word
"BRADBURY" across the top in big capital letters --- not "Ray
Bradbury," just "BRADBURY" --- it struck me that this giant, this
scribe, this national treasure has been writing classic stories for
over 60 years now. People have been born, come of age, had children
and passed of old age in that time and he is still writing ---and
writing well. But you knew that already. Well, if you haven't read
LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE, you might not be aware of the last point.
So let me delay you for just another minute.

LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE continues in the tradition of Bradbury's
previous mystery novels, DEATH IS A LONELY BUSINESS and A GRAVEYARD
FOR LUNATICS. The setting is once again Venice, California in the
early 1950s and the narrator is a young, unnamed screenwriter who
is, in fact, Bradbury. Bradbury actually has the chutzpah to begin
LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE with the phrase "It was a dark and stormy
night..." and actually has the talent to successfully bring it off
--- in spades. On this particular dark and stormy night the
narrator hears a tapping at his door and discovers Constance
Rattigan, an aged, once-beautiful film star, bearing two worn
telephone books that contain the names of Hollywood personalities,
most of whom have passed over to the other side of the curtain.
There are a few who are living but are also marked for death ---
and one of them is Constance. The screenwriter enlists the aid of
private detective Elmo Crumley (and if you don't understand the
reference behind that particular character, you need to read THE
LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley) and together they attempt to trace
the owners of the names that are marked for death. More often than
not, however, they find that they are, rather than too late, too
early. Bradbury uses their search as a vehicle for a tour of Los
Angeles, not only in the geographical sense, but also in a
nostalgic one. While he mourns the glamour of the past, Constance
seeks to escape it. Along the way, the reader sees the glitter of
the facades as well as the alleys that run behind them. They are,
as Bradbury demonstrates, inexorably intertwined.

LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE is a mystery, yes, but Bradbury also
injects element of satire, celebration and fantasy into the mix. He
also, quite cleverly, references one of his best-known novels,
though if you blink you'll miss it. Bradbury's ability to intersect
mystery and fantasy --- and fantasy with reality --- remains as
sharp and as engrossing as ever. LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE is not to
be missed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Let's All Kill Constance
by Ray Bradbury

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Avon
  • ISBN-10: 0060561785
  • ISBN-13: 9780060561789