Review: Murder on the Yellow Brick Road by Stuart Kaminsky

Murder on the Yellow Brick Road Title: Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (Toby Peters #2)

Author: Stuart Kaminsky

Published: 1977

Category: Mystery

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound

It is November 1, 1940. In the famous sound stage of the Wizard of Oz on the MGM lot, a little man is lying face-up on the yellow brick road. Someone has murdered a Munchkin. Toby Peters is summoned to the scene of the crime by a very young and frightened starlet named Judy Garland. He begins to put together the scanty clues. Within an hour, he is hired by Lewis B. Meyer himself to keep the name of Judy Garland (and MGM) clean of the scandal, and to hold off the police and the newspapers. But before long, Peters realizes that he is on to nothing less than a plot threatening the life of Judy Garland. Enlisting the aid of Judy, Clark Gable, and Raymond Chandler, Peters uncovers clue after clue. But the odds are heavily stacked against him.

Murder on the Yellow Brick Road by Stuart Kaminsky is the second Toby Peters mystery I’ve listened to and I actually liked it better than the first. It takes place in 1940, the year after The Wizard of Oz was released, and it’s Judy Garland who calls Toby Peters in for help. I haven’t actually seen many of the classic movies from the 30s and 40s, but that was one movie I truly enjoy and a star I’m at least familiar with. Add in Raymond Chandler and it’s quite a cast of characters. On a side note, I should read The Big Sleep soon, it was a book that was mentioned several times in this one.

Toby Peters is a stereotypical PI, wise-cracking and under-paid with a soft spot for a damsel in distress, not just Judy but her assistant, who seems to find Toby irresistable. Toby should really have known better. His brother’s a cop and somehow Toby always end up as one of the main suspects in murders. He has quite a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time, whether he’s being paid to be there or not. Toby knows his way around the film industry and keeps asking questions, following suspects, getting shot at until he finds some answers.

The dialogue is funny and Christopher Lane, who narrates the book pulls it off well, almost tongue-in-cheek, but not quite.  At four hours, twenty minutes, the story is a good length, long enough to develop the characters and plot, but so long that you get tired of the vintage Hollywood gimmic. The celebrities are shown in as realistic a fashion as possible, but the line-up of potential suspects is actually pretty small since you know the killer has to be one of the fictional characters – so it isn’t too hard to figure out the culprit ahead of Toby. The classic Hollywood atmosphere is captured well, making me feel like I was there, watching.

Toby Peters Mysteries

  1. Bullet for a Star  (review)
  2. Murder on the Yellow Brick Road
  3. You Bet Your Life
  4. The Howard Hughes Affair
  5. Never Cross a Vampire
  6. High Midnight
  7. Catch a Falling Clown
  8. He Done Her Wrong
  9. The Fala Factor
  10. Down for the Count
  11. The Man Who Shot Lewis Vance
  12. Smart Moves
  13. Think Fast, Mr. Peters
  14. Buried Caesars
  15. Poor Butterfly
  16. The Melting Clock
  17. The Devil Met a Lady
  18. Tomorrow Is Another Day
  19. Dancing in the Dark
  20. A Fatal Glass of Beer
  21. A Few Minutes Past Midnight
  22. To Catch a Spy
  23. Mildred Pierced
  24. Now You See It

Challenge: WAYR

4 Comments

  1. This is a book I hope to read this year. I want to work through the whole series eventually, but so many books to read. Anyway, I am glad you liked it. This is a nice review.

    I also hope to read The Big Sleep sometime this year and watch the movie and review it.

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