Foss (Lady in the Lake, 1997, etc.) presents another modern-day heroine whose passion for long-ago history can’t insulate her from fresher wounds.
Two interruptions spoil the dinner party for researchers working on Don Keysett’s epic production of Severus, a popcorn life of the Emperor Septimus Severus. The first is an appearance by novelist Scott Julius, still disgruntled that he’s been shut out of the writing team and his novel Severus and Julia isn’t credited as a source. The second is a rifle shot that strikes Severus biographer Prof. Liam Hogue and flight choreographer Rick Steele. Prompt action by fashion advisor Maddy Crowe prevents any fatalities, but the escaped shooter is still out there. When the London police arrest Scott, a sigh of relief passes over the crew, but not over the suspect’s wife, Caroline Bowden-Rose, who begs Maddy to smuggle a copy of the screenplay off the set to bolster Scott’s claim to authorship, even though the similarities he’s seeking will only strengthen his motive for sinking the production. It’s the beginning of an adventure that will involve Maddy in a quest for the real target of that rifleman, an unlikely movie-star romance, a thicket of viperous rivalries, the discovery of ancient secrets among Keysett’s Hollywood “family,” and two separate escapes from murderous fires.
Eventful, varied, and labyrinthine, though the last few twists and turns may leave you more bemused than impressed.