Dangerous to Know: A Lillian Frost & Edith Head Novel

Written by Renee Patrick
Review by Ellen Keith

Dangerous to Know reunites social secretary Lillian Frost with costume designer Edith Head in Hollywood in 1938. No longer an aspiring actress, Lillian works for Addison Rice, while Edith heads up the wardrobe department at Paramount. Edith summons Lillian when Marlene Dietrich asks for help tracking down a fellow German expat, musician Jens Lohse. Lillian’s search takes her into the German immigrant community of Hollywood. Who is a Nazi sympathizer, and who is horrified by Hitler?

As in Frost and Head’s previous adventure, Design for Dying, Patrick uses real-life figures judiciously, so they don’t outstay their welcome. Besides Dietrich, Dorothy Lamour, Jack Benny, George Burns, and even Hedy Lamarr make appearances. Lillian is the protagonist, though, with Edith as her supportive sidekick. Patrick, a pseudonym for a husband-and-wife team, captures Hollywood from the superficial concerns (who will play Scarlett O’Hara?) to the mounting tension of German nationalism. Lillian’s boyfriend, Detective Gene Morrow, gets some competition in the form of Simon Fischer, but can Lillian trust Simon? The mystery is suspenseful, but as in the first outing, the strength of the story is in its characters and atmosphere.