cover image Bit Player: A Jeri Howard Mystery

Bit Player: A Jeri Howard Mystery

Janet Dawson, Perseverance (SCB, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-1-56474-494-4

In Dawson's delightful 10th Jeri Howard mystery (after 2000's A Killing at the Track), the elderly proprietor of a movie memorabilia shop in Alameda, Calif., overhears PI Jeri mention her actress grandmother, Jerusha Layne, who went to Hollywood in 1937 and played extras in films like the MGM costume drama Marie Antoinette. The man informs Jeri that Jerusha dated and later had an unfriendly parting from British actor Ralph Tarrant—and may have had more than a bit role in Tarrant's unsolved 1942 murder. A skeptical Jeri, knowing Jerusha met her grandfather in 1941 and married him in '42, digs into her grandmother's past, starting with the roommates with whom Jerusha shared a bungalow. Meanwhile, Jeri has to wonder if someone is willing to commit murder in the present-day over two golden era movie posters. In flashbacks, Dawson does a fine job bringing WWII-era Los Angeles to life. (Apr.)