TERENCE KINGSLEY-SMITH – The Murder of an Old-Time Movie Star. PI Pete McCoy #1. Pinnacle, paperback original; 1st printing, August 1983. Cover art by Mark Watts.

   Another one and done as far as Hollywood PI Pete McCoy is concerned, but when you look at where he is when the story’s done, it is not surprising. The tale in The Murder of an Old-Time Movie Star is told in alternating segments, the first taking place in 1935, the second in current day 1983, when the events of 1930s finally catch up with all who were involved, including Pete McCoy himself.

   It begins when McCoy’s replacement cleaning woman, a lady newly arrived from Poland, asks him to find her husband, a man who abandoned her in the old country with her two children to come to America, and Hollywood in particular. It does not take Pete long to find him. He’s a well-known director now, married and living under a new name.

   McCoy makes the mistake of confronting him with head of the studio in tow, however, without a back-up plan in mind. When the cleaning lady is found dead on the sidewalk outside the building where McCoy’s office is, he knows how bad a mistake he made. The year 1935 was part of a time when studio bosses had all the power in Hollywood, especially when it came to protecting the reputations of their stars and their highly-paid directors.

   Terence Kingsley-Smith has a few credits on IMDb, and his mother was screenwriter Dorothy Kingsley, so he knew his way around Hollywood, both old and new, with an especial flair for knowing what was there then and what’s there now — or was in 1983.

   Pete McCoy tells the story himself and does so walking an occasional fine line between being crass and being crude. It’s his style and he’s as non-PC as they come: female readers may find much to object to in this book. Although the jumping back and forth in time may do a lot to conceal it, the plot is a simple one, but anyone enjoying PI stories taking place in Hollywood against a movie-making background may find as much to like with this one as I did.