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Murder in Disguise - an early Hollywood mystery
July 11, 2017
Murder in Disguise by Mary Miley Severn House
Historical Fiction Pub Date 01 Aug 2017
Murder in Disguise captivates the reader in the same way that early Hollywood first enthralled its viewers. There is glamour, suspense and action, with a lead whose checkered past only adds to her attraction. I enjoy historical mysteries in general, but Murder in Disguise exceeded my expectations. It gives readers a taste of early Hollywood during prohibition, and has many a tantalizing reference to early stars such as Myrna Loy, Fred Astaire, and Douglas Fairbanks. Readers feel like studio insiders.
Jessie Beckett, former vaudeville performer, is a script girl with a talent for solving murders. Her help has proven invaluable to the police on several occasions ( though only a couple would admit to it). When a projectionist is murdered, the widow (another employee at PickFair) asks Jessie to look into it. The murderer, a man in a red coat with a bushy beard and glasses, disappeared in plain sight moments after the killing. Police are mystified. Meanwhile, Jessie’s beau has been targeted by the police. His drugstores with their legal alcohol are cutting into the business of bootleggers in control of the city, making him a threat. As Jessie investigates, she discovers more murders linked to the first - each with a killer who is skilled at vanishing. It will take all her skills and contacts to find the truth.
Hollywood in the 1920s is the perfect setting for a mystery. Times are changing. Women are becoming more independent - and Hollywood is at the forefront. When you add in a heroine with an interesting backstory and a wide range of contacts, you have the foundation for a winning series. Mary Miley’s novel feels authentic, especially the many famous personas being fictionalized. The plot was well done, and I particularly liked how communication across distances was depicted - so true to the time period. I was very impressed by Murder in Disguise and look forward to more books by Mary Riley.
5 / 5
I received a copy of Murder in Disguise from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
1920s script girl Jessie Beckett investigates the murder of a movie projectionist in this absorbing historical mystery.
“Joe Petrovitch was gunned down on a sunny Saturday afternoon in early October, during the ninth reel of Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush.”
Employed by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Jessie Beckett has a busy time as Script Girl for Pickford-Fairbanks studios. Yet she also has a reputation as a skilled amateur sleuth. So when a projectionist is shot dead and his grieving widow asks Jessie if she can find out who killed him, Jessie is determined to find the killer and his motive. But who was the mysterious man in the red coat who fired three shots at Joe Petrovitch? And how could he enter and leave a crowded theatre without being noticed? To find the answers, Jessie must delve into the dead man’s past and uncover dark secrets from another continent and another era. As she is to discover, the past has a long reach...