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Follow a 50s private eye as he solves a Hollywood crime of passion with this story-game.

The detective story is one of literature's most popular and versatile genres, with sleuths ranging from the mild-mannered Miss Marple to hard-boiled private eyes like Sam Spade. Jim Novak, the reluctant hero of the "Hollywood Murders" by Michael Zerbo, is the latter type, a 1950s style gumshoe straight out of Central Casting. The case involves a scandalous murder and the usual array of slinky dames, shady characters, and assorted thugs and snitches typical of film noir mysteries. It features photo-realistic graphics, sound effects, and an Infocom-style parser.

The software aspect of The Hollywood Murders is easy to use, with the typical plain but efficient Windows-style application interface and a sufficiency of basic controls. You can change the font and a few other display options, as well as sound and special effects. Though it's not critical to following along or playing the game, it's obvious that "The Hollywood Murders" was written far from gritty Los Angeles and in a language other than English, and then translated. The result is a bit clunky and awkward to read, with strange word choices and stilted dialogue that sometimes seem more like a parody than a detective story.

"The Hollywood Murders" is typical of a new kind of literature as well as a new kind of publishing, combining elements of print books and graphic novels with interactive games, though it doesn't quite do justice to either format. It's freeware and certified for Windows versions up to Vista. It installs desktop icons without asking but uninstalls cleanly.

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