The Monet Murders
Riley Fitzhugh is a novice detective in 1934 Hollywood. He loves the sun, the women, and the movie industry, and knows there’s plenty of crime to investigate. Because it’s Hollywood, and also because of his slightly inconvenient past activities, involving money laundering and the FBI, Riley goes by the name Bruno Feldspar and has adopted the hard-boiled qualities of his new moniker and profession. A studio contact lands him a job tracking down a lookalike of an executive’s dead wife at the same time as he meets a society wife who thinks her Monet painting has been stolen and replaced by a forgery. The movie and art worlds collide as Riley penetrates the gambling ships off the LA coast as well as the hallowed halls of a local university and museum. Keeping track of the women, the paintings, the drunken screenwriters, and the interweaving pieces of these cases (which do include dead bodies needing to be disposed of) makes for a romp through the lighter side of the noir detective life. Readers may recognize some of the characters from real life (is that F. Scott Fitzgerald?), and all will enjoy how Mort makes Riley the pivot point of this fast-paced adventure.