As for the mystery, it’s a little embarrassing watching the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ferber running around town checking...

MAKE BELIEVE

Back from a long-ago prequel in her hometown (Escape Artist, 2011, etc.), formidable author Edna Ferber returns to the 1950s and to her most unlikely avocation: amateur sleuthing.

When her old friend Max Jeffries, a peerless music arranger whose labors have enriched every screen version of Show Boat, writes a letter in defense of the Hollywood Ten that gets him attacked and blacklisted, his credit removed from the 1951 Technicolor version MGM is about to release, Ferber packs up the galleys of Giant and rushes to his side in support. Five days later, Max, shot to death in his bungalow, is beyond the staunchest support. Or is he? Vowing, “No one murders my friends and gets away with it,” Ferber makes the rounds of Max’s few friends—especially his other two musketeers, aging actor Sol Remnick and Egyptian Theater manager Larry Calhoun, who’ve gone in with Max on several little investments—and his biggest enemies, Ethan and Tony Pannis, whose mobster brother Lenny’s fatal fall from a balcony they blame on Max’s wife, Alice, who’d been married to Lenny until he hit the ground. But all these suspects, whom dyspeptic narrator Ferber sketches in lightning strokes, are upstaged by the blistering double portrait of Ava Gardner, the star of the new Show Boat, and her bantamweight lover and sparring partner, Frank Sinatra. Though Ferber has no use for the classless crooner, desperate to revive his flagging career by getting cast in From Here to Eternity, she brings radiant, insecure siren Gardner to triumphant new life, just as she did with Harry Houdini last time out.

As for the mystery, it’s a little embarrassing watching the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ferber running around town checking alibis. Come for the whodunit, stay for the stargazing.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0080-9

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

ARCHIE GOES HOME

In Archie Goodwin's 15th adventure since the death of his creator, Rex Stout, his gossipy Aunt Edna Wainwright lures him from 34th Street to his carefully unnamed hometown in Ohio to investigate the death of a well-hated bank president.

Tom Blankenship, the local police chief, thinks there’s no case since Logan Mulgrew shot himself. But Archie’s mother, Marjorie Goodwin, and Aunt Edna know lots of people with reason to have killed him. Mulgrew drove rival banker Charles Purcell out of business, forcing Purcell to get work as an auto mechanic, and foreclosed on dairy farmer Harold Mapes’ spread. Lester Newman is convinced that Mulgrew murdered his ailing wife, Lester’s sister, so that he could romance her nurse, Carrie Yeager. And Donna Newman, Lester’s granddaughter, might have had an eye on her great-uncle’s substantial estate. Nor is Archie limited to mulling over his relatives’ gossip, for Trumpet reporter Verna Kay Padgett, whose apartment window was shot out the night her column raised questions about the alleged suicide, is perfectly willing to publish a floridly actionable summary of the leading suspects that delights her editor, shocks Archie, and infuriates everyone else. The one person missing is Archie’s boss, Nero Wolfe (Death of an Art Collector, 2019, etc.), and fans will breathe a sigh of relief when he appears at Marjorie’s door, debriefs Archie, notices a telltale clue, prepares dinner for everyone, sleeps on his discovery, and arranges a meeting of all parties in Marjorie’s living room in which he names the killer.

The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5040-5988-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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