Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Murder Your Darlings-J.J. Murphy

Murder Your Darlings
J.J. Murphy
Obsidian, Jan 4 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451231994

It is the 1920s with Prohibition in full swing. Vanity Fair columnist Dorothy Parker, renowned for her wit, lives in the Algonquin Hotel. She is going to the restaurant where she and her fellow writers have their own table dubbed the Round Table. Dorothy notices a pair of legs sticking out from the table and assumes one of the regulars has arrived.

She finds the corpse of Leland Mayflower, the Knickerbocker News drama critic. At the same time William Faulkner introduces himself to Dorothy; telling her he came from Mississippi to immerse himself in the culture as he hopes to one day write about what he sees and feels. The police look at the young writer as a suspect so Dorothy and her friend Mr. Robert Benchley begin to ask questions. Faulkner saw the person who killed the critic and the cops seek him out as he is a known gun for hire. However someone kills the culprit before the police can interrogate him. Mobster Mick Finn takes the second murder personally as the gun man worked for him; he cannot afford to allow someone to get away with killing one of his men or he will lose face. The killer, the mobster and the police keep their sights on Parker and Benchley with the former wanting to insure they can’t identify him and the latter hoping they can.

This historical mystery is very atmospheric; giving armchair time traveling readers a vivid taste of the Roaring Twenties in New York City. Dorothy is portrayed as a good friend, a tough broad and a highly regarded member of the literary intelligentsia. Celebrities appear in cameo roles, which enhance the realism of Murder Your Darlings so that the grateful audience will appreciate Parker-Benchley, amateur sleuths.

Harriet Klausner

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