Groucho Marx and the Broadway Murders
This is Goulart’s fourth in his series featuring Groucho Marx as a detective aided and abetted by Frank Denby, the writer for Marx’s radio show and a former crime reporter with the Los Angeles Times. Their latest adventure takes them to New York, where Frank’s wife, Jane, a cartoonist, is meeting with producers to discuss adapting her cartoon strip for the radio.
Apparently, even in the 1930s, transfer between media was not always faithful, as witnessed by the ways the executives suggest Jane alter her strip, Hollywood Molly (Let’s give her a dog! Let’s give her a brother!). The Broadway murder of the title is that of a Hollywood producer, a Svengali-type who jealously guards his discovery, Dian Bowers, who is starring in Saint Joan (borrowing a page from Otto Preminger and Jean Seberg, I presume). Groucho’s Groucho-isms (there is no other word) flow non-stop, and Goulart’s ear is so good that I could almost hear them in that unmistakable voice. I was thoroughly entertained until the ho-hum denouement. Plotting is not the author’s strong suit, but dialogue and a sense of time and place are. I look forward to catching up with the first three books and the publication of the fifth.