The fatal poisoning of her celebrity-biographer boss leaves a loyal assistant on her own in a world in which everybody wants a piece of her, and somebody wants more.
Justine Turner is something of a celebrity herself. So when she drops dead in the middle of a meeting with dogsbody Charlotte Donovan at a New York tearoom, word of her demise swiftly goes out, along with the word of all the opportunities her death has opened up. Competing biographer Severn Hartwell wants Charlotte to come work for him, though what he really wants is the contract for the new life of legendary Hollywood star Jean Harlow that Justine was working on. Collector Chad Walters wants to buy the 152-carat sapphire ring William Powell bought for Harlow because he’s convinced that it wasn’t buried with her but made its way into Justine’s custody instead. As for dishy Sgt. Den Brophy of the NYPD, he clearly wants something more personal from his key witness. Ordinarily Charlotte, who has a thing for law enforcement, would be more than happy to oblige, but she just bet her childhood friend Kate $500 that she could stay away from romantic entanglements with cops for a month. What disturbs Charlotte most is a spectral female who pops up shortly after Justine’s death, then outside Justine’s plush apartment, which Charlotte and Kate have secretly moved into, then at Justine’s funeral—a woman who looks exactly like Jean Harlow, who died in 1937. Can Charlotte, sinking under more material from Justine than she can possibly make sense of, put the pieces together before she joins her boss and her boss’s last subject in the great beyond?
Bryan (Assault and Beadery, 2018, etc.) launches a new series short on surprise but impressively detailed in its Hollywood research, for reasons a brief afterword makes pleasingly clear.