The Sharpest Needle (A Lillian Frost and Edith Head Mystery, 4)

Written by Renee Patrick
Review by K. M. Sandrick

Former silent film star Marion Davies is receiving poison pen letters from the shadowy Argus. The letters threaten to expose an indiscretion with Charlie Chaplin to Davies’ lover William Randolph Hearst. Soon, two men suspected of being associated with the letters are found dead, one of a drug overdose, the other shot to death. Enter the crime-sleuthing team of Lillian Frost, assistant to industrialist Addison Rice and renowned California party host, and respected wardrobe designer Edith Head. The adventure takes Frost to a weekend at Hearst’s famed estate San Simeon, a costume party at Davies’ beach house, and visits to RKO and Paramount studios, where she runs into current and future luminaries—Orson Welles, Paulette Goddard, Barbara Stanwyck, and Preston Sturges.

The Sharpest Needle is fourth in the Frost/Head mystery series by Renee Patrick, the pseudonym for Rosemarie and Vince Keenan. Rosemarie is a research administrator and poet; Vince is a screenwriter and journalist.

The story is set in the early 1940s when Europe is on the brink of the Second World War. Themes reflect the effect of Nazism on the arts at home and abroad as well as the tensions elicited by the escalating belligerence of the Third Reich. Dialogue and description etch keen portraits of screen stars, writers, and directors. The mystery has plenty of tantalizing sidetracks as it unfolds and fashion accessories as clues. Carefully stitched and neatly sewn together.