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Mildred Pierced (2003)

af Stuart M. Kaminsky

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663308,152 (3.96)3
That down-at-the-heels gumshoe Toby Peters again proves to be "an unblemished delight," as the Washington Post Book World put it, while his creator, Stuart M. Kaminsky, continues to "make the totally wacky possible" in a zany new Hollywood adventure. Having survived the hire of such movie luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, and Cary Grant, tinsel-town detective Toby finds himself in the employ of an edgy Joan Crawford. Actually, Toby needs Miss Crawford as much as she needs him. His longtime friend and office mate, the mad dentist Sheldon Minck, has been jailed for murder--the victim, his estranged wife, Mildred; the motive, a $200,000 inheritance; the weapon, a crossbow. Only Miss Crawford, the single witness to the crime, can attest to hapless Minck's innocence. But the former MGM movie queen has just been offered her first film in two years, as the title character in Mildred Pierce, so she is anxious to avoid unpleasant publicity that could cost her the role. So it's up to Toby to solve the crime, save Minck, and thus keep Miss Crawford's famous name out of the daily papers.… (mere)

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“Mildred Pierced” (2003) was the 23rd of the 24 Toby Peters mysteries written by the late Stuart M. Kaminsky. Like the others, it is Hollywood-based, featuring real movie stars, and outrageously funny, in addition to being a good mystery. This time Joan Crawford witnesses a murder and hires Toby, a private investigator, to keep her name out of the papers.

Toby has another reason for his interest in the case, namely that Sheldon Minck, the hapless dentist he shares an office with, stands accused of murdering his wife, Mildred, while supposedly practicing archery. He doesn't know why Sheldon loved Mildred, but he knows he did. So there must be something else going on. Besides, he knows Sheldon couldn't hit the side of a barn from inside the barn, unless he was aiming at something else.

One can sense during the course of the novel that Kaminsky is wrapping up the Toby Peters series. Not only does Mildred Minck, a continuing character, die, but so does the wife of Toby's brother, a Los Angeles cop and a frequent Toby ally and nemesis. By the end of the novel, the brother has left the police force and joined Toby's detective agency. And then Sheldon comes into a lot of money when one of his outlandish inventions actually works. So either the series must be ending or it must be taking off in a new direction. Unfortunately it was the former.

Before his death in 2009, Kaminsky wrote several more mysteries in his other series, including the Abe Lieberman books and the Inspector Rostnikov books, but just one more Toby Peters mystery. They are all great fun, but “Mildred Pierced,” along with “A Fatal Glass of Beer” (featuring W.C. Fields) ranks among the best. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Sep 16, 2020 |
Great story. The characters are well done and the plot moves along at a nice pace. ( )
  grandpahobo | May 21, 2020 |
First Toby Peters book and I look forward to reading more. Very quick and funny. ( )
  briannad84 | Oct 7, 2011 |
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That down-at-the-heels gumshoe Toby Peters again proves to be "an unblemished delight," as the Washington Post Book World put it, while his creator, Stuart M. Kaminsky, continues to "make the totally wacky possible" in a zany new Hollywood adventure. Having survived the hire of such movie luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, and Cary Grant, tinsel-town detective Toby finds himself in the employ of an edgy Joan Crawford. Actually, Toby needs Miss Crawford as much as she needs him. His longtime friend and office mate, the mad dentist Sheldon Minck, has been jailed for murder--the victim, his estranged wife, Mildred; the motive, a $200,000 inheritance; the weapon, a crossbow. Only Miss Crawford, the single witness to the crime, can attest to hapless Minck's innocence. But the former MGM movie queen has just been offered her first film in two years, as the title character in Mildred Pierce, so she is anxious to avoid unpleasant publicity that could cost her the role. So it's up to Toby to solve the crime, save Minck, and thus keep Miss Crawford's famous name out of the daily papers.

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