One Extra Corpse – Barbara Hambly

One Extra Corpse is the second entry in Hambly’s Silver Screen mystery series. Emma’s husband died in WWI and, after losing her parents and brother as well, she eventually ends up in Los Angeles with her sister in law Kitty, a gorgeous and untalented star of silent film. This is a light and a well-researched, well-written and well-plotted mystery. Without risking spoilers, Hambly examines the early days of the studio system where stars were made because of how they looked. We learn about the common practice of ensuring notoriously gay actors appear in public with “romantic” people of the opposite sex. Extras were were so expendable that they risked life and limb to appear in crowd scened involving guns or explosives. The casting couch entry to the profession was definitely in place. Hollywood was a small, small town when it came to knowing everyone’s business. Hambly weaves in famous actors and directors whose backstories are known to us. Emma has a cameraman boyfriend, Zal. It’s been four years since she left England and this budding relationship has potential, but she sometimes longs to be back in England continuing her studies at Oxford. In addition to serving as Kitty’s assistant, Emma has work as a screenwriter. This could be problematic as her knowledge of ancient history is frequently set aside when, for example she’s instructed to make a character Christian in a period falling eighty years before the birth of Jesus. I enjoyed this enough to buy the first book in the series so I can fill in the back story. Fun characters, fun geographical background, fun locale, interesting resolution to the murder. Definitely recommend.

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