This book was entertaining. Set in 1924 in Hollywood, amidst the glitz and glamour of old Tinseltown in it’s glory days, we are plunged into the story fairly quickly. Emma Blackstone has come to the U.S. to be an assistant of sorts to her famous sister-in-law Kitty Flint, star of the movie being filmed. Emma lost her husband in the war, and was in need of somewhere to live when Kitty swooped in to help. Now Emma finds herself on a movie set, keeping an eye on Kitty along with three pampered Pekinese dogs and mentally rolling her eyes at the anachronistic inaccuracies of the movies Kitty stars in. Kitty, aka Camille de la Rose, has a busy love life – involved with the head of the studio, while at the same time romancing a gentle elderly millionaire; she’s flighty and not a great actress but she has that IT factor the audiences love. Then out of the blue, a man arrives who may have been her husband at one time and turns up dead in her dressing room with a threatening note from Kitty in his pocket.
The studio honcho hustles to cover up anything that might incriminate Kitty, but it doesn’t exactly work that well. Emma finds herself caught up in the mystery, and decides to do some of her own sleuthing to figure out what happened. She has help in this regard from the head cameraman, Zal, who is smitten with her and is happy to lend a strong hand to the investigation. The two of them are soon mixed up with gin running mobsters and a private investigator who is checking out the alibis of other famous actresses of the day in case one of them bumped off Kitty’s ex to frame her. In between of all of that, the movie continues to film and we get snippets of scenes and the goings on behind the scenes on set. It’s quite a mix, but it all works somehow.
The start of the book was a bit confusing and there’s a lot of characters introduced quickly, but I found I was soon caught up in the story and couldn’t put it down. The descriptions of old Hollywood are well done, and it’s a fascinating fiction of the excesses of the time. Emma was a no-nonsense kind of gal, and even though she missed her old home and life, she wasn’t sure she wanted to return to it. Her romance with Zal was sweet, and they made a good investigation team – I’m not sure if Ms Hambly intends this to be a series, but I would love to read another adventure for these two. And also find out how Kitty fares with her dogs – Buttercreme, Black Jasmine and Chang Ming.
I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of this author before, but I have discovered a prodigious backlist for her. Her books range from science fiction to Star Wars to vampires to a series of mysteries set in old time Louisiana to this latest one. I’m definitely planning to check out some of her older books.