Kaminsky's latest Toby Peters book hardly qualifies as a "Mystery," but it is certainly entertaining, and it moves
along with easy grace.
The story is set in WWII Hollywood, and the story consists of
more nostalgia than anything else. The author has his character, Toby, not only tell what he is doing, but also tell us the brand name of everything, and that gets a little old. It's too artificial for the main character to always specify not
only that he is listening to the war news on the radio, but he
is listening to H.V. Kaltenborn on his Arvin radio. He frequently mentions his Crosley automobile, and that can't be because there is anything memorable about such an auto, except
that they were fairly rare, and almost nobody has ever bothered to restore any of them. Hence, their rarity. He tells us what
brand of tooth powder he uses and which brand of razor blade, and the list goes on and on to where the list of brand names used interferes with the story.
But apparently the author loves the period, and he has done a lot of research into the era and community, and he manages to convey a lot of affection for the places and things described.
When he describes a menu in a diner, you can bet that diner existed, at the location named, at the time covered, and if he
recites building details and covers the ambience of the neighborhood, it is also a good bet he has it described perfectly.
A reader really throwing himself into the story could almost
feel like he was reading an L.A. newspaper from that time.
For further example, when Kaminsky reveals some detail about the
Hollywood personalities who appear in these books, that is also
a true and documented fact.
This one involves his dentist pal being accused of the murder of
his estranged wife, and that act happens to be witnessed by
Joan Crawford. The star is frantic to keep her name out of the papers because bad publicity might end her bid for a award-winning role she is reading for, so she hires Toby to keep her
name out of the papers, and he can only do that by exposing the
Thinking of time and the "old days," think when a movie star had
to worry about bad publicity for fear it would hurt or ruin her
But Toby is good at his job, and he has his usual clashes with
other mis-fits, as well as the police. His brother, with whom
he has a very antognistic relationship, helps him a little, but
the brother is beat down by the death of his wife and his uncertainty about his future with the LAPD.
And Toby even has an answer for that question.
A nice romp through WWII Hollywood, told in the language of the times, and it is a nice, easy read.