Frank Sinatra had a hold on the American imagination as soon as he burst on the scene in the middle of the 20th century. Dead over 20 years, he still does. These books include him as a character, particularly in the days of cool.
Robert J. Randisi expertly captures the feel of 1950s and 1960s Vegas in his Rat Pack mysteries; the series starts with Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime. Eddie Gianelli may seem to be just a pit boss at the Sands, but he's who the Rat Pack, especially Sinatra, go to when something delicate needs to be done. Aided by cheerful hoodlum Jerry, Eddie always gets his man or woman in this breezy, witty series.
Joe Buonomo hates mobsters. That's unfortunate in a way, because he's up to his neck in them in John Sandrolini's My Kind of Town. Sinatra hires Joe to fly him to Chicago, Joe's hometown, and hang around. In between reconnecting with his family and romancing seductive singer Claudia, Joe has to look for Al Capone's lost treasure and the true deed to the Merchandise Mart. Great noir atmospherics and a lot of Chicago history make this book a real winner.
Sinatra is really a magnet for mysteries, and he shows up in Make Believe by Ed Ifkovic, one of his Edna Ferber mysteries. Writer Edna Ferber is in McCarthy-era Hollywood to help out a blacklisted friend. Sinatra and Ava Gardner get involved, and Edna's friend is murdered, sending her on a chase for the killer. Ifkovic has a great time evoking 1950s Tinsel Town and those who inhabited it.
Frederick Turner's The Go-between tells a fictional tale of the real Judith Campbell Exner, a lover of both Sinatra and John F. Kennedy who was known to liaise with Sam Giancana for both men. In Turner's account, Exner wasn't so much a fallen woman as one who believed in the promise of the era a bit too much.
Hassie Calhoun by Pamela Cory follows a small-town Texas teenager as she heads for the bright lights of Las Vegas. Talented and beautiful, Hassie attracts the attention of both Sinatra and the abusive boss of the Copa Room, Jake Contrata. When the road to stardom forces Hassie to make an impossible choice, she has to decide what's really important. Full of incident, this book is another to evoke nostalgia for a bygone era.
Have you read another novel featuring Old Blue Eyes? Tell us in the comments.