THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH – Amanda Quick
A Perfect 10
Burning Cove, California, 1930s
Anna Harris, personal secretary to socialite Helen Spencer, finds her very generous boss murdered in her luxurious bedroom. Helen left a message in her blood on the wall: ‘RUN.' Anna quickly packs, and pulls out money she has saved from a shoebox in her bedroom closet. More is inside the box than should be there: more money, a small black leather notebook with indecipherable information, and a letter from Helen. The letter again warns Anna to run and never look back. It also instructs her to never give the notebook to anyone, including the FBI. It is her insurance. Anna flees New York. Once she can think straight, she heads for the other side of the country. Four months later she is Irene Glasson, a gossip reporter. At the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel, Irene finds Gloria Maitland, rumored lover of the up-and-coming movie star Nick Tremayne, dead at the bottom of the lap pool in the hotel's spa. Irene hears someone walking toward her, and fearing for her life, escapes to a more public place. After the police leave, hotel owner Oliver Ward questions her. Irene tells him Gloria chose the time and place to meet, luring Irene with a hot scoop for the gossip rag where Irene works. Irene thinks the scoop might have something to do with Nick Tremayne, and she suspects he murdered Gloria to keep her quiet.
A dangerous trick ended magician-performer Oliver Ward's career, nearly killing him onstage. To survive, he sank every cent he had into buying the Burning Cove Hotel, a place now known for its luxury, privacy, and security, a place where movie stars and other high-profile guests love to stay. As a magician, he learned how to redirect people's attention and how to read their expressions. He is very good at both talents, but Irene Glasson gives little away. This intrigues him, because he knows she hides secrets.
There are many intriguing characters involved in this mystery. Graham Enright, owner of a New York law firm, tells his son Julian to retrieve the invaluable black notebook no matter what it takes. Julian is as handsome and as charismatic as any movie star, including Nick Tremayne. Nick's assistant, Claudia Picton, Oliver's uncle Chester, and his friend Luther Pell, also have important roles in the story. Irene is resolute about her investigation because a similar murder killed a fellow reporter, which also seems tied to Nick Tremayne. Soon she is involved in yet another murder, but is the murderer after Anna Harris or Irene Glasson?
This well-done mystery takes the reader back to the period of black-and-white movies, the wild life styles of the famous and rich, and a time with few of today's instantaneous electronics. It involves one person with two different identities, each persona tied to different murder mysteries. Both Irene and Oliver have dark secrets; both have had to reinvent themselves, and both of them have a general distrust of others. It is an interesting era to visit, with fascinating characters caught in a murderous conundrum, earning THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH a Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10.