It’s a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod Murder
Bebe Bennett, native of Richmond, Virginia, has moved to the Big Apple in 1964, four years before the Summer of Love, when teased rather than long hair was the norm, everything was “groovy,” and fake lashes were de rigueur. Bebe, a secretary to a record exec, and her roommate, Darlene, arrive at the Legends Hotel to meet up with two English bandmates for a night on the town. They find lead singer Philip Royal dead in his bathtub, and Darlene, who shared a “mile high” experience with the victim on the band’s flight over from London, becomes a suspect. In the tradition of plucky amateur sleuths everywhere, Bebe decides that it’s up to her to clear her friend’s name.
The wide-eyed Southern naïf takes on 1960s New York with a guilelessness that opens doors for her in her investigations. Martin ably evokes a specific time and place, when music was moving from crooners to mop tops and sexual freedom was trumping sexual repression. The mystery itself is less compelling, with a laundry list of suspects traipsing through the chapters until the denouement, but Bebe is a warm and genuine character, despite her predictable crush on her gorgeous playboy boss.