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Laura’s been offered a lead role in The Midnight Wedding, a screwball romantic comedy, being filmed by Carville Studios. This opportunity comes at the perfect time. Circumstances surrounding events in The Yankee Club make it necessary for Jake and Laura to leave New York. They book a train compartment and head west toward glitz, glamour, and talkies. It’s the Dirty Thirties and Hollywood is preparing to be subjected to the Hays Code when Jake and Laura arrive.
Jake has promised Laura his detecting days are in the past. While they’re in Hollywood he’s going to write the next installment in his Blackie Doyle series, totally support her career, and keep a low profile. Fate has other plans for Jake and Laura. Things go awry the second they disembark the train.
Movies, murder, mobsters, and general mayhem define Jake and Laura’s first days in Hollywood. Despite his intentions Jake’s unable to avoid playing detective or keep a low profile. When he reluctantly agrees to a former associate’s request to give his opinion of the scene of a Hollywood big wig’s suicide Jake quickly goes from consultant to number one suspect. Without his New York friends and allies Laura plays a bigger part in Jake’s investigation to prevent his being charged with murder. Jake’s former time spend in L.A. as a Pinkerton agent works for and against him as he races the clock.
Louella Parsons, William Powell, Carole Lombard, and Jack Benny all make appearances. Jake’s first meeting with Powell:
Beside me stood a familiar fortyish man. His crisp voice, thin mustache, and tailored clothes presented an urbane and sophisticated presence. He studied my face and wrinkled his brow. “You look like a patient bracing for dental surgery.”
Maybe the party wasn’t filled with stiffs and egotistical actors after all. “It’s that obvious?”
“That obvious.” He stuck out his hand with a smile I recognized from the big screen. “I’m William Powell. Call me Bill.”
The Thin Man is being written by Hammet and is set to go into production with William Powell and Myrna Loy already chosen to play Nick and Nora Charles. Powell jokes playing Nick won’t be much of a stretch:
“Congratulations on your upcoming role in The Thin Man. You’ll make a perfect Nick Charles.”
“Not much of a challenge. My character drinks from morning till night and is in love with his wife.”
At the time Powell is married to Carole Lombard but she’s filed for divorce which he’s reluctantly agreed to. Lombard also makes an appearance:
“‘Technically,’ that’s an interesting choice of words, for a writer. When a woman leaves the room and asks a man to order her a drink, it’s her way of letting other dames know, keep your mitts off.”
I’d never heard that. “Is that true, Bill?”
He shrugged, “If I knew as much about women as my reputation, I wouldn’t be divorcing such a beautiful young dish.”
After blowing Powell a kiss, Lombard patted my hand. “At least she didn’t ask you to hold her purse. Who is this dame with her sights set on you?”
Powell cleared his throat. “Christine Brody.”
Lombard flinched at the mention of the name and squeezed my arm. “Oh, you poor man. You’re going to need something stronger than champagne.
Mr. Murphy’s adroit blending of factual and fictional characters and events is one of my favorite aspects of this charming series. It doesn’t hurt that William Powell is one of my favorite actors, after Cary Grant of course.
On the darker side there’s Leo Cartwright, formerly with Al Capone, and Slick Ray Gambino. When Jake gets into a mess he doesn’t do it by half measures for sure; the mob and prime suspect of the L.A.P.D. for murder. Jake doesn’t have time to waste as he and Laura race against the clock to save his neck and their careers.
Mr. Murphy adeptly avoids sophomore slump in ALL THAT GLITTERS, the second installment of his Jake and Laura mystery series. Readers pick up exactly where Yankee Club left off making for a smooth continuous flow. A rapid pace and continuous action keeps the pages flying. The mystery is solid and likely to keep armchair sleuths second guessing themselves. I certainly did. There was a point, near the end, when I feared we were veering to clichéd but happily that wasn’t the case. Honestly, it was a huge relief because that would have ruined it for me.
ALL THAT GLITTERS is a solid follow up to the Yankee Club and possesses all the charm of one of those delightful 1930’s movies. Jake and Laura are now at the top of my favorite sleuthing couples list. I’m impatiently awaiting book three, especially if the encounter at the end is a hint of what’s to come.