Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Edge of Ruin-Irene Fleming

The Edge of Ruin
Irene Fleming
Minotaur, Apr 27 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 978-0312575205

In 1909 Philadelphia, Adam Weiss informs his new wife Emily that he has quit his job and sold every asset that have to open up Melpomene Moving Picture Studios in New York. She is stunned as Adam had never done such a bold risky undertaking since he courted her. He further explains to his shocked spouse that he signed a contact with lawyer Howie Kazanow to deliver four one-reel films in a few weeks; if he fails to deliver, he loses the movie firm to Kazanow.

Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company legally owns movie production especially in New York. His monopoly shuts down potential competitors so Weiss takes his crew back across the Hudson to Fort Lee in order to elude Edison’s espionage detectives who are all over Manhattan and allegedly the boroughs too. However, while filming in Edison’ backyard of New Jersey, a nasty detective arrives on the lot only to be stabbed to death. The police arrest Adam leaving it to Emily and the eccentric crew to finish the films and find proof that her husband is innocent.

This is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth in which the early era of filmmaking steals the show from the mystery. Over a century ago, fans of the silent era will relish the insight to movie-making even before Griffith started filming in the streets of Los Angeles. The whodunit is cleverly devised to enhance the beginning of the motion picture industry as the early twentieth century comes vividly alive in this salute to the first decade of the silent movie era.

Harriet Klausner

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