“Cons, Dames & G-Men” An Anthology

Part Two:

crime blog coverI grew up reading crime stories and watching crime movies. I don’t mean the kind of crime tales you can get now. I’m talking about the gritty crime of the thirties through the early fifties. My father introduced me to the genre and I was immediately hooked. Back then people didn’t give a lot of thought to what was appropriate for children. So, I was one of the last few lucky kids who got a taste of the dark world of gangsters taking out speakeasies with Tommy guns, good cops going bad over sexy women, and bad cops struggling to be good guys because of straight-laced ladies.

I grew up reading crime stories and watching crime movies. I don’t mean the kind of crime tales you can get now. I’m talking about the gritty crime of the thirties through the early fifties. My father introduced me to the genre and I was immediately hooked. Back then people didn’t give a lot of thought to what was appropriate for children. So, I was one of the last few lucky kids who got a taste of the dark world of gangsters taking out speakeasies with Tommy guns, good cops going bad over sexy women, and bad cops struggling to be good guys because of straight-laced ladies.

When the opportunity to write a short story for an anthology built around the golden age of crime, I immediately knew I was in. To give you a taste of what the seven authors of these fine stories are offering, I have chosen to review each story, except of course my own.

CDG Cue

The second story in the anthology is Cue Murder by Jane Risdon.

The early years of film were also known as the Golden Age. One of the most popular genre’s in both film and literature in the thirties and forties was the crime detective story. Jane Risdon combines both film and crime in her short story Cue Murder. She skillfully brings murder to a movie set, capturing the fascination the public had with the lives of Hollywood’s biggest film stars.

When ingenue Allis Blondell is found dead in her on set trailer, the movie studio immediately goes into spin mode to cover up her apparent suicide. Risdon sets the stage beautifully as she describes the crowd of performers and other observers who gather around, speculating on how the blonde star died. Detectives called to the scene to investigate the death are informed by the studio doctor that Blondell’s death was obviously an accidental overdose. As the studio’s doctor his job was to tell the story the studio created to keep scandal out of the news. Since the doctor had prescribed barbiturates for the star he felt safe in ascribing her death to an accident. Although “The Police issued statement after statement reiterating that Allis Blondell died of an accidental overdose of barbiturates whilst intoxicated…” her co-star, Maxwell Murphy, and most of Hollywood had their doubts. Murphy had good reason to question the verdict since he was one of the hot star’s former lovers.

As Risdon guides us along the machinations of a Hollywood cover up, viable suspects to a possible murder are revealed. Rumors were rife in the tabloids and on the lips of fans and in the tabloids; “…she’d been murdered by underworld hoods she owed money to, she’d been carrying a secret love-child and the studio had her bumped off to prevent it being born…celebrity gossip queens speculated about romantic ties to the Governor of the State who had sent his hench-men to bump her off before she ruined his Presidential aspirations”.  None of the studios stories of accidental death could convince Murphy there was anything accidental about Blondell’s death. His disbelief was complicated by his realization he was still in love with the late actress, despite their break-up.

Motivated by his love as well as his inquisitiveness, Maxwell Murphy sneaks into the trailer and begins his own investigation into the mysterious death. Discovering her purse, her personal papers, and her diary are missing, his curiosity is further aroused. Finding no answers in the trailer he proceeds to Blondell’s bungalow to further search for clues. He found her house ransacked. Just like her trailer, all her pills and alcohol had been removed from the house.

Murphy is determined to discover the truth about his former lover’s death. His searches reveal secrets from her past and opens a can of worms that lead to an unexpected conclusion.

Risdon does a great job of developing her characters, creating a gripping plot, and leading the reader along a trail of twists and turns, resulting in a climax that leaves her audience gasping.

This is my favorite story in the anthology. I couldn’t set it down until the last word.


Free on Various Book Sites

Free on Amazon Kindle

 

risdon on Amazon
Jane Risdon on Amazon

 

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