Second in Quick’s (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 2017, etc.) series of thrillers about 1930s Tinseltown.
This installment follows a formula laid down in the first: A woman in jeopardy flees to Burning Cove, California, assumes a new identity, and soon finds a kindred spirit in a man with a dark past who just happens to be fiercely protective and, of course, handsome and sexy. This time, the fugitive is Adelaide Blake, who has escaped from Rushbrook, an insane asylum south of San Francisco. She hopes to elude her husband, Conrad Massey, who had her committed so he could steal her considerable inheritance. Adelaide’s late parents were scientists killed in an accident after concocting a dangerous hallucinogenic drug, Daydream. (Or was it an accident?) Rushbrook administrators, in cahoots with Conrad, were experimenting with Daydream on Adelaide, who survived thanks to her own herbal antidote. Once in Burning Cove, where she's a tea house waitress, Adelaide and readers realize how far-flung—and far-fetched—the Daydream conspiracy is. Known as a resort town where movie stars go on well-publicized retreats, Burning Cove isn’t the likeliest hideaway: Adelaide is being stalked, which is where her neighbor Jake Truett proves helpful: He was formerly in the “import-export” business, with ties to international espionage and other murky (but ultimately patriotic) endeavors. When “Psychic to the Stars” Zolanda and her assistant turn up dead in separate incidents, Adelaide suspects that someone—a dizzying array of someones, in fact—is using Daydream to make murder look like suicide (as she herself witnessed shortly before leaving Rushbrook). Conrad is glimpsed lurking about, and, as Jake and Adelaide attempt to solve the murders, they themselves become targets—taking time out to consummate their love. Although Vera, an actress, “the Most Beautiful Woman in Hollywood,” has a peripheral, mostly offstage role, this volume is surprisingly short on movie dish: Burning Cove could be any resort town.
Strictly phoned-in thrills.