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Mildred Pierced: A Toby Peters Mystery [Hardcover]

Stuart M. Kaminsky
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 30 2003 Otto Penzler Books
That down-at-the-heels gumshoe Toby Peters again proves to be "an unblemished delight," as the Washington Post Book World put it, while his creator, Stuart M. Kaminsky, continues to "make the totally wacky possible" in a zany new Hollywood adventure. Having survived the hire of such movie luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, and Cary Grant, tinsel-town detective Toby finds himself in the employ of an edgy Joan Crawford. Actually, Toby needs Miss Crawford as much as she needs him. His longtime friend and office mate, the mad dentist Sheldon Minck, has been jailed for murder—the victim, his estranged wife, Mildred; the motive, a $200,000 inheritance; the weapon, a crossbow. Only Miss Crawford, the single witness to the crime, can attest to hapless Minck's innocence. But the former MGM movie queen has just been offered her first film in two years, as the title character in Mildred Pierce, so she is anxious to avoid unpleasant publicity that could cost her the role. So it's up to Toby to solve the crime, save Minck, and thus keep Miss Crawford's famous name out of the daily papers.

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From Publishers Weekly

Old pro Kaminsky serves up his usual amiable blend of nostalgia, humor, eccentricity and a mystery built around a celebrity (typically a film star) in his 23rd book to feature PI Toby Peters (after 2002's To Catch a Spy). While his long career hasn't been lucrative, it has allowed Toby to assemble a wealth of unusual friends, including dentist Sheldon Minck. Sheldon gets in over his head when he takes up with a strange survivalist group and, apparently, slays his wife with either a well-aimed or an errant crossbow bolt. Sheldon has the weapon and the motive, and the police have Sheldon and a witness who is none other than Joan Crawford. Getting Sheldon out of jail and keeping the actress out of the news become Toby's twin priorities. Toby still lives at Irene Plaut's boarding house and struggles with his relations with his brother, Phil. Kaminsky fashions the character of his guest star from bits and pieces of her public and private personas so that Crawford appears both familiar and new. While the mystery as such may be routine, details of the time (1944), from Toby's car (a Crosley) to the radio shows (The Aldrich Family) to the projected price of a postwar car ($900 for most, as much as $1,400 for a "luxury" model), will bring smiles of recognition to older readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A woman named Mildred is pierced by a bolt from a crossbow in a public park; Joan Crawford, out on an errand before she begins filming Mildred Pierce, witnesses the killing. So, Kaminski's punny title for the twenty-third Toby Peters mystery perfectly captures the ridiculous (in the best sense of the term) cross-cutting between detection and movie lore that has long been the hallmark of this series. Peters' career as an ex-cop-current private eye spans a fascinating chunk of Hollywood movie history, from the Depression--Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (1977), in which Peters took on the case of an allegedly murderous Munchkin--into World War II. Now, it's June 1944. Toby is still figuring out the ration points for his boardinghouse landlady and renting office space from the dentist Sheldon Minck. It's Minck who's in trouble, big time, because he admits shooting the crossbow that killed his wife but insists it was another of his many klutzy accidents. Peters is working for both Minck, who hires him to help prove his innocence, and Joan Crawford, who hires him to keep her name out of the papers. As Peters investigates, he is pulled into a bizarre world of survivalists who want Minck dead and, once again, into the bizarre world of Hollywood infighting. Kaminsky stands out as a subtle historian, unobtrusively but entertainingly weaving into the story itself what people were wearing, eating, driving, and listening to on the radio. A page-turning romp. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Nov. 12 2003
Format:Hardcover
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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read July 12 2003
Format:Hardcover
I've read all of the Toby Peters books and this is a typically solid entry - it's got interesting characters and a decent plot. Kaminsky obviously has respect for Joan Crawford, which makes her a solid character. And the eulogy delivered by Sheldon Minck may be the funniest thing Kaminsky has ever written.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Nov. 12 2003
By bill runyon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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
real murderer.
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
career.
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stuart Kaminksky does it again May 13 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a fun read, that incorporates old Hollywood stars into murder mysteries then read all the Toby Peters books by Stuart Kaminsky.

Dr. Kaminsky's writing is fun and historical as well as hysterical. Each one of his Toby Peter's books gives an insight to the Hollywood of the 30's and 40's. His characters are very real and his dialogue sparkles.

Treat yourself, and start reading all Stuart Kaminsky's books
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read July 12 2003
By David Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've read all of the Toby Peters books and this is a typically solid entry - it's got interesting characters and a decent plot. Kaminsky obviously has respect for Joan Crawford, which makes her a solid character. And the eulogy delivered by Sheldon Minck may be the funniest thing Kaminsky has ever written.
5.0 out of 5 stars Toby Peters stories April 5 2014
By Natalie Hale - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoy the story background. the P I is laughable and keeps your interest no matter what situation he seems to get into
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Toby Peters June 24 2013
By Linda Scarberry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Stuart Kaminsky gave us one of the best detectives ever. Have read all his books and every one has been pure enjoyment. If you have never read a Toby Peters mystery you have missed out on an absolute wonderful cast of characters and great stories. Mr. Kaminsky was a true writing genius!
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