Verdict: SOME LIKE ‘EM DEAD is an amusing and rapid read that movie fans might enjoy more for the behind-the-scenes look at old Hollywood than the mystery itself.
SOME LIKE ‘EM DEAD is the 13th book in “The Hollywood Murder Mysteries,” a cozy series that tags along as powerful Tinseltown publicist Joe Bernardi investigates whodunits against the vibrant backdrop of old Hollywood. This time Joe is on set for SOME LIKE IT HOT and has more than a few run-ins with its stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, as well as director Billy Wilder. Marilyn Monroe doesn’t get a speaking park here, but her engaging persona looms over the entire set as the object of gossip. That is, until a young reporter turns up murdered.
Author Peter S. Fischer knows the film industry well, having co-created the now classic MURDER, SHE WROTE, along with writing a number of COLUMBO episodes. His rich knowledge of Hollywood’s Golden Age is what colors the text, and his deliberate pacing makes for a nice, jaunty read. Fischer spends a great deal of time setting up the story before the central crime occurs, which could be a drawback but turns out not to be, since the ins and outs of 1950s Hollywood are what help to strengthen the narrative.
Fischer’s experience as a screenwriter is evident is his writing, sometimes to a fault. Every character is named, even the waitress who stops by the table to offer a coffee refill. This ultimately leads to confusion, especially when everyone becomes a murder suspect. Joe’s inner monologue is rife with clichés and his tendency to arrive at (typo-laden) conclusions before enough evidence has gathered can be irksome.
SOME LIKE ‘EM DEAD is an amusing and rapid read that movie fans might enjoy more for the behind-the-scenes look at old Hollywood than the mystery itself. Still, the detective caper provides a few punches and enough bygone banter to soften the passage of a rainy afternoon.
~Courtney Ryan for IndieReader