cover image Murder and a Muse

Murder and a Muse

Gillian B. Farrell. Pocket Books, $20 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-671-75710-6

Annie McGrogan, a New York City actress who works as a PI to pay the rent, appears on the verge of a career breakthrough in this crisp, entertaining encore to Alibi for an Actress . The film role Annie lost to industry insider Lucy Kohl goes up for grabs after Lucy is arrested for drug possession; director Alan DeLucca personally offers Annie the part. Although there is no chemistry between Annie and Choice Wardell, her on-screen husband, sparks fly between her and the handsome director, whom Annie agrees to accompany to the upstate resort where they'll be filming. There they are quickly joined not only by cast and crew but by Alan's wife, children and nanny, and--perhaps worse--by Lucy Kohl, on the arm of Alan's casting director. Things hit rock bottom when Annie finds Alan dead on the floor of her room, blood pooled around his head. As the police's favorite suspect, Annie calls in her co-worker, PI Sonny Gondolfo, but both are hampered by lack of experience: up to now, they've only followed their boss's instructions and neither has ever actually solved a case. With her unsentimental perspective on the movie industry and lively sense of humor, Farrell, who is also an actress and private detective, plays the intrigues and absurdities of her settings and characters for all they're worth. (Mar.)