This glitzy murder mystery (208 pages) was published in February of 2021 by Poisoned Pen Press. The book takes you to 1926 Hollywood. Melissa read Valentino Will Die and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Travel back to 1926 Hollywood with real-life silent film star Rudolph Valentino and a fictitious actress Bianca LaBelle. It’s a glamorous mystery-thriller set among the movie sets, mansions, and mobsters of Tinseltown.
Our heroine Bianca, née Blanche Tucker, was born in ‘duller than dull’ Boynton, Oklahoma. Now she’s made it big in Hollywood, and the lines between the real woman and her beloved character Bianca Dangereuse have become irrevocably blurred.
She and Rudy Valentino are best friends — platonic best friends. In the summer of 1926, they’re starring in their first film together. It’s all swell, until one night, after a few drinks, Rudy confesses that he’s been receiving death threats and he fears for his life. Then he falls mysteriously ill.
After a middle-of-the-night dash to the hospital, Bianca swears that she’ll find out who’s behind this nasty plot. Is it one of his lovers? A delusional fan? Mobsters? The only way to find out is for Bianca to team up with a PI and start investigating, much like her onscreen counterpart Bianca Dangereuse.
And that’s where the adventure begins.
Bianca may be a Hollywood it-girl, but she’s also intelligent, super loyal, and burdened with a healthy wallop of integrity. She’s daring and creative when the chips are down — and she looks super glamorous while she does it.
The action of the mystery is intercut with stories about what’s happening on the movie set, and the adventure is punctuated by title cards like in a silent movie: ‘A night of respite from the glare of the spotlight’ and ‘Events take an ominous turn.’
Plus, there are fun set pieces that transport us directly to Hollywood’s golden age: a swanky dinner party with superstars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford and a big show-down on a casino yacht just off the coast of Los Angeles.
With gangsters and Hollywood gossip columns and a jaded PI and sunny gardens in Beverly Hills, it’s everything you could want in the literary equivalent of a glass of champagne.
Oliver was riveted by the scene. It took him a moment to realize that Bianca had dropped down beside him from the walkway above. She was in her stocking feet, and as she crouched down, the slit in her skirt parted, baring one leg all the way up to her garter, from the top of which glinted the handle of a small Browning pistol. She slipped Fairbanks’s knife out of her décolletage and cut through the cord that bound Oliver’s hands. Oliver was in danger of his life, and all he could think about was that Bianca was armed to the teeth in the sexiest possible way. — Donis Casey
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