cover image Idle Gossip

Idle Gossip

Renee Patrick. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5049-2

Patrick’s solid fifth Hollywood mystery (after 2021’s The Sharpest Needle) finds Lillian Frost, social secretary to wealthy movie maven Addison Rice, and Edith Head, Oscar-winning costume designer for Paramount Pictures, drawn into the cutthroat world of gossip columnists. In 1940, Lorna Whitcomb, a top chronicler of Hollywood happenings, asks Lillian and Edith to help clear Sam Simcoe, her main source of salacious material for her column. Sam is suspect number one in the murder of tipster Glenn Hoyle, who occasionally passed Sam juicy tidbits. The only clue as to who might have had a motive to kill Glenn is a list of three names found at the crime scene, those of “a starlet on the rise, a producer with a paucity of credits, and a director the world had forgotten.” Star turns by the likes of Barbara Stanwyck, Bing Crosby, and Count Oleg Cassini, who may be in line for Edith’s job, help compensate for a plot that’s less gripping than Patrick’s usual. A bonus is the concluding author’s note that reveals the actual (and often outlandish) events that inspired elements in the story. Hollywood history buffs will have fun. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, DeFiore and Co. (May)