Interesting and unusual crime mystery set in and around the Keystone Film studios in 1915, and featuring a number of the real and larger-than-life historical characters of the silent movie industry at that time.
The story is narrated by the central character, Warwick Easton, who is an itinerant British comedian, slightly stuffy and pompous offstage, quite talented but not hugely successful onstage. Warwick has been working his way around America. His only plans are to earn enough money to pay for his passage home and, if World War One has not finished by that stage, sign up to serve his country.
His vaudeville act having been seen by a scout for the legendary head of Keystone Studios, Mack Sennett, Warwick is persuaded to apply to Keystone for a job. Hearing his name, Warwick Easton as "Keystone" Sennett is amused by the idea of making Warwick a Keystone Cop - not a role which delights him as he would prefer to play character actors, but some artful persuasion by several of the characters at Keystone studios, and his need of money, persuade him to accept.
He has barely joined the studio when one of the Keystone Cops dies during the course of filming a dangerous stunt, in what looks at first like an accident. He makes friends with a beautiful and charming aspiring actress, Amber Honeybee, who has very little talent but has, to most people's astonishment, been made leading lady in one of the films the studio is shooting. And then Amber in turn is suspected of murder after her mother is found dead. Was it another accident - or is the film set becoming the target of a murderer? Before he knows it this Keystone Cop is forced to try to get to the bottom of a real crime.
As always with Peter Lovesey this is a cleverly constructed novel which keeps you guessing and picks up the spirit of the period - in this case the world of movie making at the time of the silent films, which he presents as being at least as mad as anything in the films themselves. The real figures from the age of the silent greats who are captured in amusing and fascinating pen portraits include Mack Sennett, his girlfriend Mabel Normand, Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, and his wife Minta.
Entertaining, amusing and clever: I can recommend this book