Boston blueblood Mercy Alcutt returns in the second book in Duncan’s series set in 1920s Los Angeles. Mercy, a budding novelist, has taken a job as secretary to Ernest Templeton, Private Investigator, in hopes of life experiences to inform her work. Ernest isn’t too inclined to take the cases that would add some spark to Mercy’s days, but she has enough drive for two. Incidentally, although the name Ernest conjures up a less than prepossessing image, this Ernest is attractive enough that female clients give Mercy pangs of jealousy.
Phony psychics, a murdered gossip columnist, and worst of all, a visit from Mercy’s terrifying mother — these things turn out to be the least of Mercy’s problems when she once again unwittingly reveals too much to a murderer. I had a sense of déjà vu as she found herself in the same situation in the first book, but she remains a highly enjoyable character. Despite her penchant for confessing her suspicions to the wrong people, she proves to be a worthy foil to her employer and even manages to stand up to her formidable mother. I’m an admitted sucker for mysteries set in the early Hollywood era, and Duncan makes this a fast, fun read.