Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: Murder at the Academy Awards by Joan Rivers and Jerrilyn Farmer

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Funny look at the world of Hollywood
Cons: Mystery on the light side
The Bottom Line:
Wild Hollywood
Rocked by murder and scandal
Can Max solve the case?

And the Oscar for Best Publicity Stunt Goes to...The Corpse?

Joan Rivers has done just about everything in her long career including stand up, a TV talk show, selling jewelry on QVC, Broadway, and interviewing celebrities on various Red Carpets.  Heck, she's about to add reality show contestant to the list with the new round of Celebrity Apprentice.  She draws on her show business experience for Murder at the Academy Awards.

But I came to the book because of the co-author.  Jerrilyn Farmer's Madeline Bean mysteries are some of my favorites.  And that author loyalty lead me to this fun debut.

Maxine "Max" Taylor is the go to interviewer on the Red Carpet.  The telecasts she and her daughter Drew co-host for Glam-TV are the most watched pre-show for the Oscars.  Even so, it is a real coup to get 19-year-old Oscar nominee Halsey Hamilton's only interview before the main event.  Halsey has just been released from months is the exclusive Wonders rehab facility.

Max is shocked when Halsey arrives on the red carpet dressed only in her bra and panties.  Then, Halsey mumbles a few barely intelligible sentences and dies at Max's feet.  Everyone assumes that it was an accidental overdose, but the police are circling in on Burke, Drew's ex-fiancee, as the supplier.  When Drew pleads with Max to clear Burke, Max agrees, hoping instead to finally find the evidence she needs to show Drew once and for all what the man is really like.  Was this more than an accidental overdose?  Where will the trail lead Max?

With a book written by a comedian and a comedy mystery writer, you can expect to laugh.  And I did.  Even when I wasn't laughing, I was smiling.  The book mocks Hollywood culture and excesses while telling us a story that wouldn't be believable any where else.

The antics did at times detract from the mystery, which was a tad on the light side.  But I was entertained from start to finish, and the climax left me satisfied.

If you love your celebs, you'll definitely love this book.  The name dropping starts on page one and keeps going until the end.  Such a diverse group as George Clooney, Zac Efron, the Jonas Brothers, Cameron Diaz, and Michael Caine make brief appearances as themselves.

But the real characters are the fictional ones.  True, it's easy to guess who most of them really are, but that doesn't make them any less real.  Max was completely lovable.  I wouldn't mind spending an evening with her.  Drew was equally sympathetic.  Max's driver/bodyguard Malulu and dog Killer were a hoot.  The suspect characters were well developed as well.

The writing was smooth and polished with the perfect hint of Joan's delivery.  I couldn't believe how fast the pages flew by.

Murder at the Academy Awards left me wanting more, which makes me glad it is the first in the Red Carpet Mystery Series.  Here's hoping the ratings are through the roof for Max and Drew.

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