Monday, May 16, 2011

Old School Hollywood

Bit Player by Jeri Howard*

Reviewed by Marlyn Beebe.

Browsing in a Hollywood memorabilia shop, PI Jeri Howard comes across a poster that reminds her of her paternal grandmother, Jerusha Layne Howard who had been a bit player in the movies before her marriage.
The elderly man behind the counter of a Hollywood memorabilia shop tells PI Jeri Howard that her paternal grandmother and namesake Jerusha Layne Howard, once a bit player in the movies, had been involved in the investigation of the murder of a British actor named Ralph Tarrant. He didn't specify what Jerusha's role was, but the comment is enough to pique Jeri's curiosity.
She contacts her elderly Aunt Dulcie, in the hope that Jerusha's sister might remember something, and is thrilled to learn that Dulcie has saved the letters she received from Jerusha during those years. Reading them, Jeri finds out that her grandmother had shared a house with three other young actresses, and that one of them had dated Tarrant.

While searching for background information about the old man in the memorabilia store, Jeri stumbles onto the murder of a woman who collected Hollywood memorabilia, who had refused to sell any of her items to the store. When another collector is killed a few weeks later, Jeri begins to wonder if the present-day murders might be related to the decades-old case involving Jerusha. As Jeri investigates, the reader learns along with her many real details about the early days of the movie industry.

Dawson's first Jeri Howard novel since A Killing at the Track(2000), is a riveting mystery, at once historical and contemporary, for which she has obviously done deep and thorough research into the Golden Age of Hollywood.

*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. I love well-researched novels. I learn from them. If the research isn't done well, I learn wrong, and that's never helpful.

    This sounds like a fascinating book, Marlyn. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  2. I love learning about new authors. Thanks. And the history of Hollywood sounds like an intriguing background.

  3. Sounds like an interesting story. I'm a native Southern Californian, so always like to read about the earlier history of the area/culture. My Catherine Winter, Private Investigator novels are set in the L.A./Hollywood area, too. I add some historical facts within my stories whenever I have the opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing, Marilyn.

  4. Thanks for sharing this, Marlyn. I'm always drawn to stories set in Hollywood. Maybe because I'm a Southern Californian, like Linda. But even more than that, I love books that take us back to Old Hollywood--a fascinating place and time.

  5. Thanks, everyone for your comments. Being a relative newcomer to Southern Califoria, I was enthralled by the Hollywood stories.

  6. Sounds like an intriguing book, Marlyn. And I'd love to hear about the early days of the movie industry. Thanks for telling us about it!


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