So, Walter Jon Williams' most recent Dagmar Shaw entry has less to do with Dagmar than the last two books, but oh, wow, what a read. The Fourth Wall mostly concerns Sean Makin (who narrates most of the book in First Person Present tense. (which seems to be a thing anymore, since several of the more recent books post on here have used the same device to build tension.)
Sean, whom we meet as he's wrestling in cottage cheese against another former child star, used to star in an 80's era sitcom called Family Tree with a tagline of "Whatever lifts your luggage." However, following a less severe career trajectory than say, Dana Plato, still leaves him in a financial crater of sorts, thus why he's on the wondrous Celebrity Pit Fighter reality show.
Long story short: despite laws designed to prevent it, his mom and dad more or less walked away with the majority of his enormous earnings from Family Tree. Dad mainly spent it on scams and gambling, while Mom spent money getting closer to her guru, who she thinks is an incarnate God.
His agent, who's pretty much the only rep willing to touch him, sets him up with an offer from on Dagmar Shaw, who's producing a new kind of serial movie. The idea being that the plot branches at the end of every installment based on what the viewer chooses. Viewers would then be encouraged to share versions, since, with only one branch per device, people would want to see what they missed out on. (It should be pointed out Dagmar is pregnant with Ismet's baby now.)
Anyway, there's much less emphasis on the ARG in this installment, beyond Sean signing up for one early on and getting strange phone calls from one of the characters. Sean's blog also becomes part of the Game created to promote Escape to Earth, as well as providing insight into Sean's life story. (Mind you, we really only find out about some of his worst moments through the regular soliloquies throughout. Like how his test run for a DUI comeback attempt derailed when a friend of his died as he was trying to engineer a crash for himself. Or how he sold video of a younger pop star having a melt down to a tabloid to make money.)
Throughout the course of the narrative, we get a rather cynical look at fame and Hollywood, reality show competition fixing, and several murders. Oh yes. while Dagmar faced small amounts of danger in the last book, Sean gets to deal with a psychotic devotee of his mother's guru, a black SUV that tries to run him down a few times, and many of the cast and crew dying not long after their part in the movie is finished.
Oh yes, Sean is a trouble magnet. And that's half of what makes him so fun to read. I look forward to any future installments, since this series is quite engaging and fun.
Now, as I was reading this, I was reminded of another series, which in turn may be mentioned later this week when and if I get around to doing a survey/synopsis on gay mystery series.
The Actor's Guide series by Rick Copp also involves mysteries being solved by a semi employed former child star. Namely, one Jarrod Jarvis of Go To Your Room! and "Baby, don't even go there!". His career decline starts with him making out with another guy at a rodeo, thus the whole gay mystery thing. Again, it's full of Hollywood cliches, and lots of gay references, but the books themselves are fun to read, and worth trying to find on Amazon. (There's only 3. Murder, Adultery, and Greed.)