cover image Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark

Stuart M. Kaminsky. Mysterious Press, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-528-1

Even Fred Astaire can't dance his way out of trouble without help from Toby Peters, detective to the stars in wartime Hollywood. In Toby's 19th entertaining case (after Tomorrow is Another Day), mob moll Luna Martin wants dance lessons. Her boyfriend, nicknamed ``Fingers'' because he removes those of his enemies, invites the great dancer to instruct Luna--or suffer bodily harm. After Luna bats her eyelashes once too often at the star, however, a nervous Astaire, fearing wrathful Fingers, hires Toby to stand in. But Toby doesn't ``know a tango from a funeral march.'' The disappointed Luna complains, but not for long; someone cuts her throat. As the bodies pile up, Toby also struggles with his ex-wife's decision to marry a B-movie actor and takes poundings from an enigmatic legbreaker named Kudlap Singh, formerly a professional wrestler known as the Beast of Bombay. Clues lead to a star-filled benefit at L.A.'s historic Wiltern Theatre, where danger lurks when Astaire takes the stage. As always in this engaging series, Edgar-winner Kaminsky effortlessly choreographs Hollywood history, colorful cast and dirty doings. (Jan.)