The Wrong Girl (Bianca Dangereuse Hollywood Mysteries)
This is the first in an excellent new series by Donis Casey, author of the Alafair Tucker mysteries. In 1920, Blanche, one of Alafair’s daughters, longs to become a Hollywood star. Charming Graham Peyton, posing as a film producer, sweeps Blanche off her feet. But, after she runs away with him, he abandons her and sells her to a pimp. Blanche escapes, and an aging film star hires her as a stunt double. Eventually, Blanche makes it to Hollywood and becomes the renowned, but mysterious, actress Bianca LaBelle.
Six years later, Peyton’s skeleton is found on a beach. A notorious gangster hires detective Ted Oliver to find out who killed him. Oliver’s search leads him to Bianca. Did her past with Graham Peyton lead her to murder? Or did one of his many other victims kill him?
Casey brings the world of silent film to life, using Hollywood slang from the 1920s. The novel is structured like a silent movie, with black-and-white story cards at the head of each chapter. Casey takes us to another world, but one which is all-too-close to ours. The theme of film executives as sexual predators could have been taken from today’s headlines. Highly recommended.