Monday, June 27, 2011

The Brink of Fame-Irene Fleming

The Brink of Fame
Irene Fleming
Minotaur, Aug 16 2011, $25.99
ISBN 9780312575441

In 1914, Adam and Emily Daggett Weiss own Melpomene Moving Picture Studios in the film capital of the world Fort Lee, New Jersey. Adam is on location in Flagstaff, Arizona filming a desert extravaganza while his wife rides the rails a week after he left to join him.

However instead of a hug and kiss to greet her, Emily arrives in Flagstaff to learn Adam lost Melpomene to their bitter nasty rival Howie Kazanow. Additionally rather than face the beating Emily would have given to her husband, he vanished with actress Agnes Gelert. Emily meets private detective Howie Kazanow, who obtains a job for her with movie businessman Carl Laemmle in Hollywood. He offers Emily a director’s gig if she find missing star Ross McHenry. When she does, she is thankful Mr. Laemmle never mentioned alive.

The second pioneering film-making Emily Daggett Weiss amateur sleuth mystery (see The Edge of Ruin) is an engaging historical mystery. The story line is at its best when the focus is on pre- WWI Hollywood and its Eastern bigger counterpart Fort Lee. The whodunit is entertaining though the massive cast of suspects never allow any of the cast to move beyond the stereotypical Peter Lorre’s spinster characterizations. Still fans of early Hollywood will enjoy Emily finds her groove on the other coast.

Harriet Klausner

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