The Gilda Liberty Mysteries
An Unrehearsed Death
Some people spend years planning their funerals. Maesie had spent years planning her death. She had intended to script her deathbed scene with the meticulous care of Hitchcock, but without the macabre sense of humor. She would scour classic movies to find just the right exit line, rehearse her latest favorite as diligently as an ingenue, then abruptly discard it when she happened on a new favorite.
"The thing is," Adele would confide to other family members, "Mae just can't decide who she wants to be when she dies."
Now Mae had died, and she hadn't been anyone she wanted to be at all.
When her aunt dies, Gilda Liberty inherits an independent movie theatre, the Paradise, in her hometown of Eden, Ohio. To run it, she is forced to return home to the loving embrace of her large and eccentric family, all of them retired movie people—silent screen stars, dancers, B-movie character actors, screenwriters, directors, set designers, make-up artists, and more—and each of them following his or her own script. The funeral alone is worthy of Cecil B. DeMille. But not all of the drama is being provided by the Liberties, unless one or more of them has decided to play the role of murderer. In Fade to Black, when the local multiplex burns down, the family is suspected of killing the competition. In Freeze Frame, a young documentary filmmaker crosses the path of a killer. And in Slow Dissolve, a World War II veteran with Alzheimer's disease struggles to reveal a secret that can save an important chapter in the history of American film-making—a secret that someone is dead set on keeping buried.
This series, published by Fawcett, is currently out of print.
"All right, all right. You've made your point. I'll hire you to investigate Uncle Julius's death."
"You might need to finance a trip to L.A."
"Okay. But no Disneyland tickets. No Universal Studios tour. You pay for those on your own. I don't want to get the expense report and read that you tailed someone into Tomorrow-land."
"Borton's memorably wacky characters and incessant Hollywood references add up to a fun read."
I saw two posters on the back wall, on either side of the door. One was Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet; the other was Bogey, Astor, Lorre, and Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon.
I tapped Bogey on the chest.
"I guess you always wanted to be him when your grew up," I said.
"No," she said, "I wanted to be the gunsel, but I was too tall."