Monday, August 17, 2020
Mystery at Movie Ranch (Hollywood Cowboy Detectives #1) - Darryle Purcell
A series of fast-paced, medium-boiled mysteries set in the world of B-Western moviemaking in Hollywood in the 1930s, featuring real-life cowboy stars as characters? Now you're talkin' my lingo, hombres!
The narrator of this novel is Sean "Curly" Woods, former crime reporter turned studio publicity flack and trouble-shooter. MYSTERY AT MOVIE RANCH opens with Curly (a very likable protagonist, by the way) trying to get a drunk Ken Maynard to the set of the serial MYSTERY MOUNTAIN, a production that's been plagued by various difficulties, including possible sabotage. Before you know it, they're being ambushed, running around mine tunnels with secret passages, battling would-be killers in a mysterious futuristic aircraft, butting heads with mad scientists and Nazi Fifth Columnists and gangsters (including some infamous real-life mob figures), and generally entertaining the reader (this one, anyway) with a great yarn that plays like a movie serial, complete with a hooded mastermind orchestrating all the havoc.
Darryle Purcell, who's also a cartoonist and provides the cover and some interior illustrations, knows his stuff when it comes to the B-Western era. I really enjoyed all the little details and the appearances of real-life characters such as Ken and Kermit Maynard and Hoot Gibson. There are more than a dozen books in this series so far, and I may well read all of them if they're as much fun as MYSTERY AT MOVIE RANCH. I mean . . . Hollywood Cowboy Detectives? You can't get much more in my wheelhouse than that.