cover image Murder in the Blue Room

Murder in the Blue Room

Elliott Roosevelt / Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (215p) IS

For the eighth time, the author casts his mother as a sleuth, setting this novel in 1942 during a secret visit from Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov. President Roosevelt, the First Lady and U.S.S.R. Ambassador Litvinov are dining at the White House when a killer strikes in the Blue Room. The ``golden blonde'' target was a staff secretary; later, her friend, another blonde, is also murdered, leading Mrs. Roosevelt to ask embarrassing questions of young married ``men about town'': Representative Everett Dirksen; Nelson Rockefeller; and others who spent evenings with the victims in ``hot-sheet hotels.'' There are additional suspects, including a Roosevelt-hating reporter and a Boston Brahmin who had dated both women. With her usual acumen, Mrs. Roosevelt provides evidence against the obviously guilty party. The author safely impugns the dead and takes relatively harmless potshots at the living (at Nixon, for one), which isn't cricket but will no doubt titillate gossip mavens. Altogether, the novel is transparent make-believe, trivial compared with the grave events in that year of the war and the character of Eleanor Roosevelt. Mystery Guild selection. (May)