- Ben Hecht
The good news—almost wonderful news, except for the One Problem that I'll detail at the end of this review-- is that the late Stuart M. Kaminsky's delightful Toby Peters novels are being released for Kindle by Mysterious Press. I downloaded the very first book of the series, Bullet for a Star, and read it with pleasure.
The Toby Peters novels, if you're not familiar with them, are light mysteries set in Hollywood. Toby is a very small-time P.I. who nevertheless keeps getting hired for cases involving famous movie stars (and a few other notables) of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
In this story, an executive at Warner Brothers (which fired Toby as a security man some time earlier) asks him to look into a blackmail scheme. Someone has sent them a print of a photo of Errol Flynn in a compromising position with a very young girl. Flynn admits the accusation isn't out of the question, but in this case he's never met the girl. The studio wants Toby to make arrangements to pay the blackmail anyway.
But instead of a simple exchange, there's a fight, and Toby gets knocked out, and somebody gets dead, and then the action takes off.
The Toby Peters books are lots of fun, especially for the name-dropping. In this story, aside from hobnobbing with Errol Flynn, Peters talks detecting with Peter Lorre on the set of The Maltese Falcon, and chats with Humphrey Bogart on location for High Sierra.
This being the first book in the series, not all the classic elements of the Toby Peters series are here yet. His munchkin friend Gunther remains in the future, and Toby is also not yet living at Mrs. Plaut's boarding house. But the book is fun anyway, the patter is amusing, and everything comes out all right.
My only complaint (here comes the One Problem!) is that Mysterious Press has chosen to charge $9.99 for the books in this series.
Seriously, guys, $9.99 is too much for a paperback reprint. Especially a short book like this. You've already made back your author's advances, you've got no costs for paper or printing or warehousing. Give the reader a break. You'll make it up on volume. Don't be greedy.
Recommended for teens and up.