cover image A Fatal Glass of Beer

A Fatal Glass of Beer

Stuart M. Kaminsky. Mysterious Press, $22 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-630-1

The 20th appearance of Toby Peters, Hollywood's Golden Age PI, begins on April 1, 1943, and traces Peters's road trip with W.C. Fields as they try to catch up with the thief who is emptying out bank accounts the comedian has stashed in different states throughout the country. From L.A. to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Utah, they and their driver, multilingual Swiss midget Gunther Wherthman, remain just a step behind the man who assumes Fields's identity and cleans out one account after another, and only one step in front of Fields's former driver whom they thought had stayed in L.A. A murder in Iowa reveals that John Barrymore had been involved in what was intended as an elaborate caper. After stumbling into a KKK rally in Nebraska, the threesome learn that yet another party is involved in the thievery and are involved in a second homicide. Back in L.A., Toby connects up with his police detective brother and determines where the April Fool's Day joke turned into a fatally serious game. Kaminsky (Dancing in the Dark) balances one-liners from Fields with headlines about the war effort in this amiable adventure that delivers a nicely twisted plot with fully dimensioned characters, including the usually caricatured misanthropic comedian. (May)