GEORGE BAXT – The Dorothy Parker Murder Case. International Polygonics; reprint paperback; 1st printing, April 1986. Hardcover edition: St. Martin’s Press, 1984. Trade paperback reprint: IPL, November 1989.


   It’s 1926, and the story opens with Mrs. Parker once again attempting suicide. Her witty-melancholy POV leads the reader through an investigation into the death of George S. Kaufman’s latest illicit girlfriend. She and Alec Woollcott bring in police detective Jacob Singer to help, and the romp is afoot.

   Rudolph Valentino’s death works into the story, as does the murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor. The habitués of the Algonquin round table and figures from New York’s rowdy Prohibition nightlife populate the story.

   It’s quippy, colorful and fun, and there’s enough real investigation going on to make the plot plausible. Mysteries that utilize historical figures as sleuths and supporting players can seem contrived, but Baxt makes it make perfect sense.

   The historical aspect works, too; this feels like what 1920s literary New York might really have been like. Recommended — enthusiastically if you’re a fan of the era.