SMART MOVES by Stuart M. Kaminsky


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Slightly more amusing than most of Kaminsky's celebrity-mysteries for 1940's shamus Toby Peters, this 11th case takes L.A.-based Peters to Manhattan and Princeton--where his assignment is to protect Albert Einstein from Nazi assassins. Aging tough-guy Peters visits Einstein, trading quips with a jokey pair of FBI agents who are shadowing the scientist. Then, following a trail of absurdly contrived clues, the sleuth traces the principal hit man to the Taft Hotel and Greenwich Village, where Paul Robeson is rehearsing Othello. A key witness is near-fatally shot; Einstein barely escapes assassination--and clobbers the bad guy with an anchor--while out sailing with Peters; the assassin reappears at an Othello performance, in the audience, stabbed to death. And finally, when Einstein and Robeson team up for an Easter Sunday concert, Peters--with little assistance from silly, reluctant sidekick Shelly-the-dentist--unmasks the real masterminds behind all the Nazi-inspired mayhem. Too foolishly labored to take seriously, not wacky enough for laugh-out-loud farce--but a fairly painless diversion for devotees of mild shtick (wisecracking cabbies), giddy action, and so-so period atmosphere. (It doesn't help that narrator Peters gets some of the hard-working 1940's details wrong--like confusing Jerome Kern with Irving Berlin.)

Pub Date: March 24th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's