All That Glitters
Jake & Laura Mystery #2
By Michael Murphy
Author’s Website: http://www.mjmurphy.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
In Michael Murphy’s rollicking new Jake & Laura mystery, the hard-boiled writer and the aspiring movie star head for sun-drenched Los Angeles, where a cold-blooded murderer lurks behind the scenes.
Just arrived from New York, Broadway actress Laura Wilson is slated to star in Hollywood’s newest screwball comedy. At her side, of course, is Jake Donovan, under pressure to write his next mystery novel. But peace and quiet are not to be had when an all-too-real murder plot intrudes: After a glitzy party, the son of a studio honcho is discovered dead from a gunshot wound. And since Jake exchanged words with the hothead just hours before his death, the bestselling author becomes the LAPD’s prime suspect.
In 1930s Tinseltown, anything goes. Proving his innocence won’t be easy in a town where sex, seduction, and naked power run rampant. With gossip columnist Louella Parsons dead-set on publicizing the charges against him, Jake has no choice but to do what everyone else does in the City of Angels: act like someone else. Blackie Doyle, the tough-talking, fist-swinging, womanizing hero from Jake’s novels wouldn’t pull any punches until he exposed the real killer—nor will Jake, to keep the role of a lifetime from being his last.
First off I first must say… I loved the style with which this book was written. I really felt like I was back in the early 1930’s. The vocabulary, style and feel of the book reminded me of a Mickey Spillane novel. The mystery of who committed the murder of Eric Carville was very well executed (pun intended) and I was unable to guess who the murderer was until the very end. And that is a pre-requisite when I decide as to whether the book was a good murder/mystery or not.
The whole story takes place over an 8 day period. The cast of characters are indeed just that….characters. Laura Wilson (aspiring film actress) has come to town from New York City to star in a movie along with her boyfriend Jake Donovan (though they initially try to keep their relationship under wraps). Jake is a mystery writer and former Pinkerton detective. During their first day in LA, they are met at the train by various co-stars as well as Eric Carville. You can tell that Jake has little use for Eric…
”If possible, I had even less respect for him than before. His last name might be on the side of a studio building, but the twit wrote the substandard screenplay. I understood screenwriting basics, that was it, but I could do better than his melodrama.”
Right from the train Laura is whisked away and Jake must fend for himself. In steps one of the co-stars, Christine Brody, and invites Jake as her date for the Hollywood get together at the Carville Estate that evening. Many things happen that night but most notable is that Eric gets drunk, picks a fight with Jake (whom he just met that day) and then later on in the evening, Eric turns up dead of an apparent suicide (of course). In order to prove his innocence, Jake must solve the mystery of who dunnit as the police are keen on taking the easy way….and pinning the murder on Jake as a result of some very flimsy circumstantial evidence.
Some noteworthy characters:
- The butler of course – James – An interesting character whom was an actor from Britain. As he had difficulties breaking into the industry in the US, he had to make a living and thus became the butler for the head of one of the studios in tinsel town.
- Angie – mother of Sonny (young actor in the movie). Of course Angie will do what is required to further her son’s career….but will she commit murder?
- Detective Gus Connolly – would love nothing more than wrapping up the case quickly with Jake as the main suspect. There is a past there and it provides for an interesting dynamic between Gus and Jake.
- Annabelle Church – lead detective on the case and old flame of Jake’s.
Louella Parsons– In real life was known as the first American movie columnist and she is featured in the story in her capacity as a columnist. There are other references to real life persons from the era as well, with Al Capone as another. I found the inclusion of these people really make me feel as if I was back in the appropriate era. As well, Murphy added to the narrative and dialogue Depression-era slang that added to this perception as well.
I also really enjoyed the old patriarch and head of Carville Studios…Norman Carville. Some of his dialogue is priceless. He had a couple of surprises up his sleeve. But I did have empathy as he did lose his son, his hope for the future.
The mob connection added intrigue and danger into the story. And of course, what are prohibition and the 1930’s without the mob? And yet, the main mobster was a bit of a stand-up guy……hmmmm.
If anything….I am sad because this book is author Michael Murphy’s follow-up to the first book in the Jake & Laura Mystery series, The Yankee Club. This story picks up right on the heels of The Yankee Club‘s ending…and I did not get a chance to read that book first. You can bet I will pick up a copy though and read it.
*OBS would like to thank the author and TLC Book Tours for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*