Manhattan, 1927: Edna Ferber prepares for “the Ferber season on Broadway.” On December 27, the musical adaptation of Show Boat by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern opens. On December 28, The Royal Family, her comedy of manners written with George Kaufman, hits the stage despite Ethel Barrymore’s disapproval of the play’s depiction of “theatrical royalty.” But despite the excitement, Edna misses both opening nights. She has something else on her mind—murder.
Recently, Edna has been absorbed by the heady milieu of the Roaring Twenties’ Harlem Renaissance—the jazz clubs, the faddish dances, the frenzy—and the lively pulse of Broadway that entices talented young “Negroes” to push for mainstream recognition of black voices and talents.
Edna has also been mentoring some of these young writers and actors, including her housekeeeper’s son, Waters Turpin. And then there’s the boyishly handsome Roddy Parsons, a charismatic man most recently in the “Negro chorus” of Show Boat. But when Edna heads to Harlem to take Parsons to lunch, she discovers he’s been stabbed to death in his bed.
Who murdered Roddy? There are the writers who meet at Edna’s apartment, among them Bella Davenport, a beautiful vamp; Ellie Payne, a jazz singer; Freddy Holder, a rabble-rouser; and Lawson Hicks, Bella’s handsome boyfriend. There is also Jed Harris, the young producer of The Royal Family, a darling of the Broadway set, but a notoriously cruel man. Aided by Waters Turpin and his mother, as well as by poet Langston Hughes, Edna eschews theatrics to track down a dangerous and real killer.
About Ed Ifkovic
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Published July 31, 2013
by Poisoned Pen Press.
History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction.