A dead body and a vanished starlet pull heiress/screenwriter Lauren Atwill back to Hollywood for another retro whodunit.
Ever since her last dose of amateur sleuthing (A Good Knife’s Work, 2010, etc.) left her scarred in more ways than one, Lauren’s been lying low. But an urgent request from her sometime employers at Marathon Studios brings her back to Tinseltown. Someone has shot boxing trainer Mickey Triton to death and set fire to the cabin he used to cuddle Hungarian actress Mala Demara, who’s gone missing. The studio’s paramount interest, of course, is Mala’s latest film. Marathon producer Sam Ross is determined to get British director Alastair Bishop to finish the picture even if he has to bring in another actress, like Mala’s stand-in, Jane Graham, and a woman’s screenwriter, like Lauren, to rewrite Mala’s dialogue for her. The FBI, meanwhile, takes a somewhat different interest in the case, especially after Lauren finds the body of Maj. McCann, the film’s military advisor, in the bungalow she’s been assigned. Even without the constant reminder of her forceful cousin, spiritualist Zorka Karoly, no one can forget Mala’s murky background as a European émigré, or Mickey’s early years as a boxer in bed with mobster Jack Dragna. With the whole town crawling with suspects and motives, how can Lauren possibly identify the killer?
A fast-paced, lightweight talkfest with a surprisingly clever solution. The greatest pleasure, however, is watching a bunch of variously amusing studio types take turns pouting, posturing, mugging and declaiming as if they’re the hottest story of 1946.