Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, mystery, historical detail
Cons: None worth causing a scandal over
The Bottom Line:
Bank robbery script
Points finger at the wrong man
In fast moving book
Will a Movie Script Revive a Scandal?
I was thrilled when I learned that Edith Head and Lillian Frost had found a new publishing home. The first two books in their mystery series, written by Renee Patrick, were a delightful trip back in time. I am happy to report that Script for Scandal is another winner.
If you have missed this series, it takes us back to 1930’s Hollywood and expertly mixes real people, like Edith Head, with fictional, like Lillian Frost. As someone who doesn’t know much about behind the scenes Hollywood, especially the Hollywood of old, I didn’t recognize Edith Head’s name when I picked up the first in the series. She was one of the first costume designers, definitely the first woman to have such a high-profile job in Hollywood, and she continued to work in the industry for years. Lillian Frost is a young woman who has moved to Hollywood from New York, but she has found a steady job as a social secretary instead of trying to get into pictures. The two women have become good friends and are quite good at solving murders.
This book is set in spring of 1939 but involves a mystery from the past. In 1936, a bank robbery took place in Los Angeles. Within days, all three of the robbers were dead, but no one ever found the money they had stolen. There were rumors that there was a fourth man, someone who planned the robbery, and those rumors always focused on Gene Morrow, a LAPD detective and Lillian’s beau. Now, an ex-con turned writer has used the real-life story as a backdrop for his latest script. However, he is claiming that he has insider knowledge, the truth is in the script, and he is naming a thinly disguised Gene as the villain in the piece.
Edith is creating the costumes for this film, so she slips Lillian the script so she and Gene will be prepared when it comes out. Gene is more concerned that the district attorney has reopened the case, but Lillian wants to know how the writer gained his supposed knowledge. When someone Lillian has met recently turns up murdered, the stakes are raised. Can she and Edith figure out what is happening?
It’s been almost two years since I read the last book in the series, but it wasn’t long before I was able to slip back into the world of these characters. One of the fun parts of the series is how seamlessly the authors slip in real people. You never know who will pop up next. I have a feeling I might have missed a few cameos myself, but I greatly enjoyed watching the real people interact with the fictional.
Even better, everyone comes across as real. No matter if they are completely made up or historical people, they are strong characters who pull us into this world.
With the mystery of the bank robbery and how it ties into the murder happening now, there is plenty to keep the reader hooked and turning pages. A couple of times, I felt something extraneous was being introduced, but everything and everyone came into play before the story was over and Edith and Lillian had resolved everything. And yes, both of them had a hand in solving the case, something I appreciated.
Between the chapters, we get the occasional fun extra, a few pages of a script at one point, but usually excerpts from gossip columns. Yes, these do pertain to the mystery, but they are also fun. They also help bring the world of 1939 Hollywood to life. As I said earlier, I’m not super familiar with the earlier years of Hollywood, but I do have a fascination with Hollywood and movies in general, so I am drawn to the setting and love how the authors weave so much of city at the time into their books.
There is a delightful subplot concerning Lillian’s boss preparing himself for a cameo as an atmosphere player (aka an extra) in the film. It leads to one of the funniest scenes I’ve read in a long time.
If you enjoy historical mysteries, you owe it to yourself to pick up this series. Fans will be delighted to visit Edith and Lillian again in Script for Scandal.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.