cover image The Sharpest Needle

The Sharpest Needle

Renee Patrick. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8928-7

In Agatha finalist Patrick’s entertaining fourth 1930s Hollywood mystery (after 2020’s Script for Scandal), Marion Davies, the mistress of press baron William Randolph Hearst, asks Lillian Frost, the social secretary to a starstruck millionaire, and famed costume designer Edith Head, Lillian’s friend, to discreetly discover the source of a letter threatening to reveal a saucy incident from Marion’s past that could embarrass Hearst. Lillian and Edith’s investigation leads them to the letter writer, a surprising blackmail demand, a dead body, and a painting by Otto Haas, a German artist whose work is being destroyed by the Nazis. Along the way, Lillian attends parties at Hearst’s San Simeon estate, meets Charlie Chaplin, dances with Orson Welles, and attends the premiere of The Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, the Germans invade Poland, and at least one Hollywood producer is trying to curry favor with Mussolini. Patrick elegantly weaves Hollywood gossip and history into the well-crafted plot. This is a tailor-made treat for film buffs. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, DeFiore & Co. (Feb.)