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The Jean Harlow Bombshell

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When it comes to writing Golden Age Hollywood biographies, the pen is deadlier than the sword Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justi When it comes to writing Golden Age Hollywood biographies, the pen is deadlier than the sword Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin. In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer? Praise: "The Jean Harlow Bombshell is a page-turner, a modern whodunit threaded with Golden Age Hollywood glamour. Its protagonist, Charlotte Donovan, is a sleuth for our times, flawed, bright, and eminently relatable. Factor in the delicious elements of romance, friendship, and family, and you have a mystery as captivating as Jean Harlow's (still missing) star sapphire ring."—Jess Lourey, author of Salem's Cipher and Mercy's Chase


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When it comes to writing Golden Age Hollywood biographies, the pen is deadlier than the sword Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justi When it comes to writing Golden Age Hollywood biographies, the pen is deadlier than the sword Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin. In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer? Praise: "The Jean Harlow Bombshell is a page-turner, a modern whodunit threaded with Golden Age Hollywood glamour. Its protagonist, Charlotte Donovan, is a sleuth for our times, flawed, bright, and eminently relatable. Factor in the delicious elements of romance, friendship, and family, and you have a mystery as captivating as Jean Harlow's (still missing) star sapphire ring."—Jess Lourey, author of Salem's Cipher and Mercy's Chase

30 review for The Jean Harlow Bombshell

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jypsy

    The Jean Harlow Bombshell is a unique and entertaining read. The characters are likeable. It's just a fun story to read, especially if you like old movies. The Jean Harlow Bombshell is a unique and entertaining read. The characters are likeable. It's just a fun story to read, especially if you like old movies.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter Ackerman

    The Jean Harlow Bombshell is a very good first installment in what looks like an interesting series. Charlotte is an assistant to a famous author of celebrity bios. When the author is murdered suspicion moves quickly to many "kooks" who are stirred up by the work in progress which Charlotte is working to finish - a Biography on Jean Harlow. The writing is excellent. From the first pages I was taken in by the writer's style and it quickly became a page turner. What was lacking a bit for me was the The Jean Harlow Bombshell is a very good first installment in what looks like an interesting series. Charlotte is an assistant to a famous author of celebrity bios. When the author is murdered suspicion moves quickly to many "kooks" who are stirred up by the work in progress which Charlotte is working to finish - a Biography on Jean Harlow. The writing is excellent. From the first pages I was taken in by the writer's style and it quickly became a page turner. What was lacking a bit for me was the plotting. At some point in the latter half it bogged down a bit, and I felt that the writer was merely upping a page count. The conclusion was good, but ultimately not in line with the journey that it took to get there. Some further editing would have smoothed the story out a bit. For instance the main character has Lyme Disease and this is mentioned ad nauseaum in the first 24 chapters. I wanted to scream "okay...I get it!" Regardless of my negative thoughts, I was all in all satisfied with this work; enough so that I look forward to the next installment!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    2.8 stars Starts off strong, sags in the middle, perks up towards the end but deflates w/the ending. I liked the Kate character (sorry, don’t know correct term) who was a man & has now become a woman surgically. She is also the “comedic best friend” in the story. Charlotte has Lyme disease. I thought these were both unique elements to add to her characters. (i gave it the extra bit of a star for that) The negative is that I felt the author was forcing the romantic relationship b/w Den & Charlotte. A 2.8 stars Starts off strong, sags in the middle, perks up towards the end but deflates w/the ending. I liked the Kate character (sorry, don’t know correct term) who was a man & has now become a woman surgically. She is also the “comedic best friend” in the story. Charlotte has Lyme disease. I thought these were both unique elements to add to her characters. (i gave it the extra bit of a star for that) The negative is that I felt the author was forcing the romantic relationship b/w Den & Charlotte. A note: as a reader, I will pick up on the chemistry b/w characters, it doesn’t have to be repeatedly mentioned as it should be apparent thru the natural flow of the narrative. I did like the the author’s note at the end which explained her inspiration behind the book. That was interesting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)

    Charlotte Donovan is a researcher and executive assistant to a writer who specializes in celebrity biographies, mostly from the Golden Age of Hollywood. She's currently working on one about Jean Harlow, a 1930's platinum blonde who died tragically at the age of 26. When Charlotte goes to a local tearoom to meet her employer, Justine Taylor, it's only a short time before Justine dies in front of her. Now Charlotte has been given the job of finishing the biography, but also cleaning Justine's apar Charlotte Donovan is a researcher and executive assistant to a writer who specializes in celebrity biographies, mostly from the Golden Age of Hollywood. She's currently working on one about Jean Harlow, a 1930's platinum blonde who died tragically at the age of 26. When Charlotte goes to a local tearoom to meet her employer, Justine Taylor, it's only a short time before Justine dies in front of her. Now Charlotte has been given the job of finishing the biography, but also cleaning Justine's apartment, and when she finds out Justine was murdered, she decides to find out who killed her and why. But when potential murderers start coming out of the woodwork, and it's apparent that whoever killed Justine is now after her, the stakes have been raised, and with the help of a handsome police officer and her best friend Kate, Charlotte will have to dig deep to find out the truth... I wanted to read this book because I am a huge classic movie fan. So much so, I have hundreds of biographies from stars of the Golden Age, and thousands of classic films from the silent era to the 1960's. I figured this would be tailor-made for me. After all, a book about Jean Harlow and a lookalike? What's not to like? Well, this book, apparently. Please note that below there are plenty of spoilers regarding this book, so PLEASE do not read unless you've already read the book or don't care if you read parts of the plot that gives things away! (view spoiler)[First off, the author is a writer of cozy mysteries, so you pretty much are thinking you know what to expect. This book is nothing like any of the others - as an example, there's quite a bit of foul language throughout (not that it bothers me, but I more expect it if I'm reading a thriller, but this is not labeled as such, so I didn't much care for it in this book) and almost all of it is spoken by our protagonist, Charlotte. Now Charlotte is an unlikable character, and not because of her choice of words, but just her entire personality. First, I should mention she has Lyme Disease, and while it is a terrible thing, it is entirely curable. While it may take months, or even years, I am told that Lyme Disease is curable, and the symptoms will not return. So my question is, how did Charlotte contract it; where; and how long has she had it? We are never told, yet we are to believe that she's suffered from it for years. If she's still suffering, she would not have Lyme Disease, but rather Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome; and eventually even this is more than likely curable; although there are a small number of those that have some lingering effects. So that was my first problem (and before you think I'm being cold, I have a sister who has Celiac Disease, so I know how difficult it is to live with a permanent condition.) Then, not to put too fine a line on it, Charlotte is a bit of a slut with Daddy issues. (Don't go nuts; I'd use the same words if she were a male character). Her father, a police officer, left when she was a child, so now she sleeps with cops regularly - but she has standards, so the cops have to be 'hot' before she'll screw them. I guess that makes it alright in her mind. She does this on such a regular basis that when she meets Sergeant Den Brophy, who's handling the Justine case (we'll get into that later), she thinks he's one of the hot ones, but has made a bet with her friend Kate that she won't have sex for four weeks (which should tell you how many guys she's screwing; she even refers to one as one of her 'favorites'). This, however, doesn't stop her from lusting after him every time she looks at him. It comes to pass that when she goes to meet him she's worried one of her 'past experiences' might be in the bar and make things uncomfortable. But she still keeps talking with a cop on Tinder. Riiiggghhtt... Doesn't she think that if she continues to see this guy that if they ever attend a function together (or even go to a bar) that one of her former conquests might recognize her and inform Den of her little 'peccadilloes'? I can't see any way this relationship is going to work, any more than if it were Den who had been sleeping around with people she knew. Also, her mother is a drunk, so she has that to contend with. Charlotte leads a pretty depressing life, in my opinion. (As a side note, if Justine was of sound mind, Judith has nothing to contest. She never visited Justine, and relatives are not under any obligation to leave their estate to other relatives based on the mere fact they are family. A judge would make quick work of this). As for Den, the murder occurred in Manhattan. So why are the homicide detectives allowing a street cop to take the lead on this? It's not Mayberry where there are only two cops. In a large city where there's been a murder, he would have passed it on to the homicide department and been out of it. I know this is true in Manhattan, so this didn't make any sense at all. Now to the plot of the story: While the writing was very good, I wasn't happy with the story line. I get that she wanted to find out who the Harlow lookalike was. I get that she wanted to find out who killed Justine, and who's after a missing item that belonged to Harlow. (FYI, Norma Shearer's name is misspelled a few times, for those who want to know more about her but don't know who she is). What I didn't like is the way the author completely trashed William Powell, a wonderful actor, nominated three times for academy awards, and by all accounts, very well-liked. She calls him a 'prick'. He had an impish grin, dimples, a wonderful laugh, could do comedy and drama equally well, was liked by his costars, a marvelous actor...and his world crashed when Harlow died. He was so devastated he had to be helped at the funeral. He didn't work for nearly two years afterward, and was welcomed back with open arms. (Not to mention he had cancer during this time and was undergoing radical treatment and recovery). There were reasons he didn't marry Harlow, but there is no dispute that the man loved her deeply. (Just look at the photo and you'll see). [There is a photo on my blog]. While Charlotte is enamored of Harlow, it's painfully obvious she hates Powell. Needless to say, I thought this would be a new cozy series, but alas, it is not. I also thought the characters would be funny and/or quirky, interesting, intelligent, or even have substance, but they don't. You can't call Charlotte intelligent when her actions prove otherwise. The book also has some moral dictates thrown in, though I won't mention them here. I do, however, dislike the fact when authors tend to throw in their own personal and/or political views - we're here to be entertained, not preached to. I also didn't understand why the owner of the talent agency hated cops. Is he hiring criminals? Because it didn't make any sense otherwise why he wouldn't talk to Brophy, and neither would any of the employees. The last I heard, being a female impersonator wasn't against the law. (hide spoiler)] All in all, when the ending comes and the murderer was revealed, it wasn't really a surprise as all the clues were leading up to it. I felt that the book was pretty depressing, and it had no memorable characters. While I would have loved a book that introduced people to the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, this one didn't meet my expectations. Two stars for the writing, but I won't be reading any more in the series. Sorry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    First in a new series Charlotte Donovan wants to be a writer. She's spent years as assistant to Justine Turner, world -famous biographer of the stars of yesteryear. Justine is eccentric and secretive so when she calls Charlotte and asks her to meet to discuss an emergency with her work in progress, a biography of Jean Harlow, Charlotte is surprised. Unfortunately before she can tell Charlotte exactly what is going on she is dead. Right there at the booth. Did someone just murder her boss in broad First in a new series Charlotte Donovan wants to be a writer. She's spent years as assistant to Justine Turner, world -famous biographer of the stars of yesteryear. Justine is eccentric and secretive so when she calls Charlotte and asks her to meet to discuss an emergency with her work in progress, a biography of Jean Harlow, Charlotte is surprised. Unfortunately before she can tell Charlotte exactly what is going on she is dead. Right there at the booth. Did someone just murder her boss in broad daylight? It looks that way. Moving into Justine's apartment to try to finish the book before the deadline, Charlotte feels like she is being watched. Followed by a woman who looks exactly like Jean Harlow. When people start coming out of the woodwork looking for the famous Harlow ring, Charlotte may be next on the list of dead writers. Charlotte is an interesting character. She suffers from Lyme Disease and sees herself as an amateur sleuth. She pushes herself and there is a lot of mystery surrounding her father and her obsession with hot cops. On one hand I thought she was a bit too sickly to be running all over town trying to find a killer. On the other I was wondering about her odd sex life. It just didn't seem to fit with her character. This one left me with more questions than answers to be honest. I'm sure once the editing is complete the story will come together Netgalley/Midnight Ink

  6. 4 out of 5

    PugMom

    A thrilling beginning to A Classic Star Biography Mystery series! It is clearly evident that the author researched her famous subject but put such an interesting spin on old Hollywood stories that it made me want to pick up a real Jean Harlow biography and learn more about the star. So many twists and turns, you will be kept guessing to the very end. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I really like Molly Cox Bryant as an author. In my opinion, this is not a cozy mystery. This first installment in the series is good but gets sluggish in the middle. How many times must I be told that the main character has Lyme’s Disease? I liked learning a lot about Jean Harlow and I found it interesting. This is a promising start to a new series. Charlotte Donovan wants to be a writer. She works as assistant to Justine Turner, biographer to the stars. Justine is killed in front of Charlotte. Ch I really like Molly Cox Bryant as an author. In my opinion, this is not a cozy mystery. This first installment in the series is good but gets sluggish in the middle. How many times must I be told that the main character has Lyme’s Disease? I liked learning a lot about Jean Harlow and I found it interesting. This is a promising start to a new series. Charlotte Donovan wants to be a writer. She works as assistant to Justine Turner, biographer to the stars. Justine is killed in front of Charlotte. Charlotte is determined to finish the biography of Jean Harlow and figure out who killed her boss. I received an e-copy ARC from NetGalley and Midnight Ink. I am not required to leave a positive review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    The Jean Harlow Bombshell by Mollie Cox Bryan is the 1st book in a Classic Star Biography Mystery series, and it's off to a great start. Charlotte Donovan is the assistant to famous biographer, Justine Turner. When Justine dies suddenly, Charlotte is determined to find out who killed her. Does it have something to do with the book she has been writing about Jean Harlow? I really like this book, it keep me interest from the start. I learned a lot about Jean Harlow that I didn't know, and Charlott The Jean Harlow Bombshell by Mollie Cox Bryan is the 1st book in a Classic Star Biography Mystery series, and it's off to a great start. Charlotte Donovan is the assistant to famous biographer, Justine Turner. When Justine dies suddenly, Charlotte is determined to find out who killed her. Does it have something to do with the book she has been writing about Jean Harlow? I really like this book, it keep me interest from the start. I learned a lot about Jean Harlow that I didn't know, and Charlotte has Lyme disease, which was also interesting. I recommend this book for all mystery lovers. I reviewed a digital arc provided by NetGalley and Midnight Ink. Thank you.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barb Foerst

    Charlotte Donovan is an assistant to a biographer to the stars, Justine Turner. Charlotte has many issues but is a great researcher. While meeting Justine at a tearoom, Justine dies suddenly. Charlotte is left holding the ball, cleaning out Justine’s home, finishing the novel, and dealing with a stalker. I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t want to put the book down. I see a lot of criticism about the mystery not really being about the murder. I don’t think this is a bad thing. Great book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I have read Mollie Cox Bryan's books previously but they have always been cozy mysteries. While this book is not what I read from her, it kept me riveted and on the edge of my seat. I did not want to put this book down and spent most of the night awake reading. I just had to know what happened next to the characters! I have read Mollie Cox Bryan's books previously but they have always been cozy mysteries. While this book is not what I read from her, it kept me riveted and on the edge of my seat. I did not want to put this book down and spent most of the night awake reading. I just had to know what happened next to the characters!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heather Bennett

    Wow, a great new unique mystery that was flawless. I can't wait for more from this author. I was impressed and surprised by this novel. Wow, a great new unique mystery that was flawless. I can't wait for more from this author. I was impressed and surprised by this novel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Megengelter

    First of a series with murder center stage, mysteries within, friendship, history, glamour of Hollywood, and a hint of romance. I enjoyed Ms. Bryan's exploration into Jean Harlow's death; her personal link with the subject cultivates a believable tale. As you read, consider what historical details are facts (or not). Can you solve this before the final pages? ARC (Advanced Review Copy) provided by publisher and author at ALA Mid Winter Seattle 2019. Thank you! First of a series with murder center stage, mysteries within, friendship, history, glamour of Hollywood, and a hint of romance. I enjoyed Ms. Bryan's exploration into Jean Harlow's death; her personal link with the subject cultivates a believable tale. As you read, consider what historical details are facts (or not). Can you solve this before the final pages? ARC (Advanced Review Copy) provided by publisher and author at ALA Mid Winter Seattle 2019. Thank you!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexia Cambaling

    I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Midnight Ink! The Jean Harlow Bombshell concerns a writer who gets entangled into a murder mystery when her mentor and boss gets murdered for something that has to do with the biography she's writing of Old Hollywood star, Jean Harlow. It seems that many people were fascinated by her life as Charlotte's boss, Justine would call it "This has brought out all the Jean Harlow kooks." Soon, Charlotte becomes the targ I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Midnight Ink! The Jean Harlow Bombshell concerns a writer who gets entangled into a murder mystery when her mentor and boss gets murdered for something that has to do with the biography she's writing of Old Hollywood star, Jean Harlow. It seems that many people were fascinated by her life as Charlotte's boss, Justine would call it "This has brought out all the Jean Harlow kooks." Soon, Charlotte becomes the target and she has to solve the mystery before it's too late. The Jean Harlow Bombshell moves quickly and honestly, it seems more about the book and the star than the actual murder mystery. I don't have an issue with that and I still found this to be a quick, easy read. Unfortunately, I did not like the main character as much and she felt rather flat to me. This may be because her character felt a bit all over the place. Still, I appreciated how the author shows the main character's Lyme disease, how it affected her life, and how she continues to work and do her best despite of it. The actual mystery felt a bit lackluster and I was more interested in the Hollywood aspect of it. By the end, while I still enjoyed it because of the Hollywood stuff, I still wished that there was more mystery present.

  14. 5 out of 5

    T Olsen

    Excellent mystery, with a fantastic and unusual plot, well written and with great characters. There are a couple of things that don't add up, but the rest is so good it's forgiven. Excellent mystery, with a fantastic and unusual plot, well written and with great characters. There are a couple of things that don't add up, but the rest is so good it's forgiven.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rima Aiello

    All I can say after reading this is WOW. I was a fan of this author before, but this book takes me to new levels of awe. I loved everything about this story, the characters, the mystery, and the whole plot was so different and unique, I just couldn't get enough. I will read this series as quick as the author can churn them out. All I can say after reading this is WOW. I was a fan of this author before, but this book takes me to new levels of awe. I loved everything about this story, the characters, the mystery, and the whole plot was so different and unique, I just couldn't get enough. I will read this series as quick as the author can churn them out.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    A fast paced, entertaining, and enjoyable book that I read in one setting. I loved everything in this book, from the plot to the cast of characters. It was the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last. Many thanks to Midnight Ink and Netgalley for this ARC. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all opinions are mine. A fast paced, entertaining, and enjoyable book that I read in one setting. I loved everything in this book, from the plot to the cast of characters. It was the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last. Many thanks to Midnight Ink and Netgalley for this ARC. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all opinions are mine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katreader

    THE JEAN HARLOW BOMBSHELL by Mollie Cox Bryan The First Classic Star Biography Mystery Charlotte Donovan has worked for Justine Turner for years, helping her to write biographies of stars, primarily classic film stars. Suffering from Lyme disease, Charlotte is content to remain in the background, researching from her family home on Cloister Island and coming into New York City only when necessary. Justine demands Charlotte meet her immediately complaining about the "Harlow kooks", but before Justi THE JEAN HARLOW BOMBSHELL by Mollie Cox Bryan The First Classic Star Biography Mystery Charlotte Donovan has worked for Justine Turner for years, helping her to write biographies of stars, primarily classic film stars. Suffering from Lyme disease, Charlotte is content to remain in the background, researching from her family home on Cloister Island and coming into New York City only when necessary. Justine demands Charlotte meet her immediately complaining about the "Harlow kooks", but before Justine can tell her what's going on she dies. Now Charlotte must step into the limelight to finish the Jean Harlow biography, but will doing so put her in the crosshairs of a murderer? Do we ever really know someone? This first Classic Star Biography Mystery looks at the things that make people tick. From rabid collectors to the primary characters to Jean Harlow herself, Mollie Cox Bryan uncovers the motivation and psychological makeup that drive people. Charlotte Donovan is a troubled protagonist. She's unique as she has Lyme disease, which affects her abilities both physically and mentally at times. While I felt this was an interesting trait, it was mentioned almost ad nauseum throughout the entire book. Every single time her actions were impacted, Lyme disease was mentioned as the reason. Readers should have been given more credit for being able to surmise this fact and not be continually told. Charlotte is also influenced by a troubled upbringing, a father who abandoned the family while she was young, an alcoholic mother, and a somewhat controlling grandmother. With an affinity for police officers and one night stands, Charlotte shuns romantic relationships. There's a dark atmosphere to the book, which could almost be described as Noir light. There is an intriguing mystery, a bit of psychological drama, and the lure of research driving the plot. I was fascinated by descriptions of Club Circe, Justine's apartment, and the details about Jean Harlow. THE JEAN HARLOW BOMBSHELL is a mystery of a different color. Featuring a damaged protagonist, it takes a harsh look at the realities of life while exploring and protecting the past. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul Sutter

    Those who enjoy stories about the golden days of Hollywood will definitely be swept up in this interesting mystery tale. In fact you don’t have to be a lover of classic Hollywood to appreciate this story. Charlotte Donovan narrates the story. She has spent many years of her life as an assistant to Justine Turner. Turner has made a life of writing biographies of the rich and famous in Hollywood. Her latest story is about film legend Jean Harlow. Charlotte is asked to meet Justine in a tea room. I Those who enjoy stories about the golden days of Hollywood will definitely be swept up in this interesting mystery tale. In fact you don’t have to be a lover of classic Hollywood to appreciate this story. Charlotte Donovan narrates the story. She has spent many years of her life as an assistant to Justine Turner. Turner has made a life of writing biographies of the rich and famous in Hollywood. Her latest story is about film legend Jean Harlow. Charlotte is asked to meet Justine in a tea room. It sounds like an urgent strategy meeting about the book. When Charlotte heads to the ladies room and then returns to the table, Justine is slumped down, dead. It seems she died of a heart attack, but there is more to the death than meets the eye. Surveillance video shows someone at the table, first slipping something into Justine’s tea and then touching her shoulder. After careful analysis it seems she may have been injected with something, to kill her. Now it is up to Charlotte to complete the biography. But soon Charlotte starts seeing someone who seems a dead ringer for Jean Harlow. It appears this person is stalking her. How does she factor into the death and the book? Charlotte also realizes that someone wants a sapphire ring belonging to Justine. A collector Chad Walters wants it at any cost. She looks into his past and finds it full of murder and crime. When the Jean Harlow lookalike stalker dies, Charlotte knows things are getting deadly and dangerous. With the help of Sgt. Den Brophy of the NYPD, Charlotte tries to get to the bottom of the mystery and also tries to stay a step ahead and stay alive of those watching her for whatever reason. Charlotte who suffers from Lyme disease is an interesting character, and this new series seems to have potential for being more than a one book wonder.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Charlotte Donovan works as an assistant to a best selling author of movie star biographies. It is a good job for her as she suffers from Lyme's Disease and that makes work a challenge. Living on Cloister Island and only going into New York City when necessary, Charlotte hopes to one day write her own books. She never imagined that it would happen like this. Her boss, Justine Turner, calls her, asking her to meet with her in a secluded cafe. When Charlotte arrives, Justine says she has something Charlotte Donovan works as an assistant to a best selling author of movie star biographies. It is a good job for her as she suffers from Lyme's Disease and that makes work a challenge. Living on Cloister Island and only going into New York City when necessary, Charlotte hopes to one day write her own books. She never imagined that it would happen like this. Her boss, Justine Turner, calls her, asking her to meet with her in a secluded cafe. When Charlotte arrives, Justine says she has something important to talk to her about concerning their work on a biography of Jean Harlow, the Blond Bombshell who died at the very young age of 26. The kooks are out in force but before any details are disclosed, Justine dies right in front of Charlotte. As the police start to investigate, she decides that she will go to Justine's apartment and try to make sense of what has happened. One thing leads to another and she is working to complete the book while at the same time investigating the murder and not becoming the next victim. I didn't feel like the mystery itself was as strong as it could have been and Charlotte was, at times, a bit annoying. The constant references to her having Lyme Disease had me tuning that out after the fifth or sixth time it was mentioned. The story of Jean Harlow was the main draw for me and, overall, I enjoyed the mystery, enough that I would read the next in the series. Charlotte as a character shows promise. My thanks to the publisher Midnight Ink and NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan Johnston

    Princess Fuzzypants here: I really liked the premise of the book. A famous biographer of the old time stars is murdered as she is writing a biography of Jean Harlow. It falls to her assistant, Charlotte, to complete the project and find the person who murdered Justine and the Harlow lookalike who seems to be following Charlotte. Everyone thinks Jean Harlow’s life was a fairly open book but there is something that someone wants to keep hidden and is quite willing to kill to do it. Charlotte herse Princess Fuzzypants here: I really liked the premise of the book. A famous biographer of the old time stars is murdered as she is writing a biography of Jean Harlow. It falls to her assistant, Charlotte, to complete the project and find the person who murdered Justine and the Harlow lookalike who seems to be following Charlotte. Everyone thinks Jean Harlow’s life was a fairly open book but there is something that someone wants to keep hidden and is quite willing to kill to do it. Charlotte herself is attacked so the killer is still out there. Charlotte is a fascinating character. She suffers from Lyme Disease which impacts her health in some pretty serious ways. I had no idea of the long term effects of the disease so that added an element to the story. The tragically short life of Harlow is interesting too. The author is actually related to the actress which makes the story both factual and fictional more compelling. It was a good story with insights into some complicated social issues. It added to the twists and turns. My only issue might have been how confusing the plot was just before the final reveal. It may have been intentional. It didn’t help me in sorting things out. Still I can happily give it four purrs and two paws up.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    I wanted to like this book after meeting the author at an ALA conference. I love the idea of twining your family history (I believe Mollie Cox Bryan is a great niece of the titular golden-age Hollywood star?) with a passion for writing mysteries! She's even had a stamp made of Harlow's signature to add when she signs books, which is very cool. As much as I wanted to like it... this book wasn't for me. I did a whole video review trying to work out my ideas about why it's not my cup of tea, which I wanted to like this book after meeting the author at an ALA conference. I love the idea of twining your family history (I believe Mollie Cox Bryan is a great niece of the titular golden-age Hollywood star?) with a passion for writing mysteries! She's even had a stamp made of Harlow's signature to add when she signs books, which is very cool. As much as I wanted to like it... this book wasn't for me. I did a whole video review trying to work out my ideas about why it's not my cup of tea, which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSBf5... HUGE trigger warnings for use of dead names and incorrect pronouns, heartbreaking backstories, and trans women who are only distinguishable from one another by which famous person they impersonate. Also, there are multiple murders in this book and ALL of them are people within the LGBTQ+ community. Please don't watch this video if discussion of any of these things could harm you! So, I went into this book with so many hopes. The writing and story are engaging and I was pleasantly surprised that we have multiple characters who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. I think the author's intentions were good... but her implementation needs an entire, almost hour-long video to unpack.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    This is the first book in the Classic Star Biography series by this author. The storyline involves a biographer, a murder in broad daylight, and a quirky amateur (and mostly clueless) sleuth who has Lyme’s disease. While this could have been a fun and interesting read, the author was not able to pull this one off. There were just too many issues with her storyline — for instance, what publisher would allow an unpublished assistant to a world-renown biographer to finish writing her book? The assi This is the first book in the Classic Star Biography series by this author. The storyline involves a biographer, a murder in broad daylight, and a quirky amateur (and mostly clueless) sleuth who has Lyme’s disease. While this could have been a fun and interesting read, the author was not able to pull this one off. There were just too many issues with her storyline — for instance, what publisher would allow an unpublished assistant to a world-renown biographer to finish writing her book? The assistant has Lyme’s disease, a disease that causes neurological issues and deep fatigue (among many other things), and yet, she runs all over town looking for a Jean Harlow look-alike and the murderer. The author’s characters lacked substance and therefore were less interesting and compelling than they could have been. All that being said, if you like your mysteries cozy, movie stars of the 1930s, and don’t mind an inconsistency or two, then this is a book for you. Thanks to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for an eARC.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Regan

    I liked this first book of Bryan's new series for the most part. The constant reminder that Charlotte had Lyme disease got old after the first 20 times it was repeated. I didn't need to know about it in every chapter. It seemed like everyone but Den had some sort of life traumatizing issue they were dealing with and it turned out he had one too! It's nice to have at least one undamaged character. I felt there were missed opportunities.....like making more of the killer possibly being a serial ki I liked this first book of Bryan's new series for the most part. The constant reminder that Charlotte had Lyme disease got old after the first 20 times it was repeated. I didn't need to know about it in every chapter. It seemed like everyone but Den had some sort of life traumatizing issue they were dealing with and it turned out he had one too! It's nice to have at least one undamaged character. I felt there were missed opportunities.....like making more of the killer possibly being a serial killer targeting a certain population and drawing attention to the discrimination of transsexuals. Instead half the characters were, but aside from saying they were it didn't do much for the story. Byran could have done much more to support and enlighten that population. And the amount of wine and beer Charlotte was drinking? With regular meds for Lyme disease? I enjoyed the Harlow history and it left me wanting to know more about her all too short life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    The mystery follows Charlotte Donovan who is an assistant to a world famous biographer Justine Turner. Charlotte wants to be a writer and when her boss is murdered before she is to have an emergency meeting with her she decides she is going to finish the current biography she was working on. Charlotte begins to feel like she is being watched and several odd characters come out of the woodwork. She also suffers from Lyme disease which is an interesting twist but I think it was overstated a bit. A The mystery follows Charlotte Donovan who is an assistant to a world famous biographer Justine Turner. Charlotte wants to be a writer and when her boss is murdered before she is to have an emergency meeting with her she decides she is going to finish the current biography she was working on. Charlotte begins to feel like she is being watched and several odd characters come out of the woodwork. She also suffers from Lyme disease which is an interesting twist but I think it was overstated a bit. As readers we can remember this. If you like old movies and movie stars this is appealing. Good solid mystery and would definitely read the next installment in this series. Solid book and mystery.

  25. 4 out of 5

    CR

    If you love the Golden Age then this one is for you!! This one quickly became a page turner that I couldn't not put down. I loved the old timey feel of the story and all the Hollywood Glamour of this time period. I am not sure if this is a debut but if it is this author is one to look out for and if its not then man I will totally be checking out this author's other stories. It did get a little slower during the last half of the story which really kind of sucked. But it wasn't so much that it r If you love the Golden Age then this one is for you!! This one quickly became a page turner that I couldn't not put down. I loved the old timey feel of the story and all the Hollywood Glamour of this time period. I am not sure if this is a debut but if it is this author is one to look out for and if its not then man I will totally be checking out this author's other stories. It did get a little slower during the last half of the story which really kind of sucked. But it wasn't so much that it ruined the story completely. Overall, this was a great story that I could not put down!! If you are looking for an old Hollywood story with murder check this one out! Go Into This One Knowing: Bogged Down towards last half

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Charlotte Donovan is an assistant for a noted author of pop star biographies, but her latest meeting with her boss ends with one dead boss. (Fortunately, security camera footage clears Charlotte.) Since Charlotte has health problems, family problems, financial problems and man problems, it's no big deal for her to decide to solve Justine's murder too, while squatting in her palatial Fifth Avenue apartment. The publisher asks Charlotte to finish the book on Jean Harlow's life, a handsome policema Charlotte Donovan is an assistant for a noted author of pop star biographies, but her latest meeting with her boss ends with one dead boss. (Fortunately, security camera footage clears Charlotte.) Since Charlotte has health problems, family problems, financial problems and man problems, it's no big deal for her to decide to solve Justine's murder too, while squatting in her palatial Fifth Avenue apartment. The publisher asks Charlotte to finish the book on Jean Harlow's life, a handsome policeman is interested in her, and her best friend Kate (ne Karl) is always ready to help her out as she slowly becomes aware that she's being stalked, possibly by more than one person. First of a series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin. In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalk Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin. In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer? This was a good book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

    Kindle Copy for Review from Net Galley and Midnight Ink. I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. A famous biographer sudden dies while writing about the famous actress Jean Harlow. Her assistant is tasked to complete the book but things do not go smoothly. She ends up being stalk online and in person by a Jean Harlow look alike. Things get out of control as she uncover secrets of the famous actress that someone does not want the public to know. Can she figure the killer befo Kindle Copy for Review from Net Galley and Midnight Ink. I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. A famous biographer sudden dies while writing about the famous actress Jean Harlow. Her assistant is tasked to complete the book but things do not go smoothly. She ends up being stalk online and in person by a Jean Harlow look alike. Things get out of control as she uncover secrets of the famous actress that someone does not want the public to know. Can she figure the killer before she ends up being the next victim? This takes you back to the golden age of Hollywood where starlets rule. An enjoyable mystery story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beth Younge

    This was a really interesting mix of pure crime fiction and a literary love letter. The actual set up to the murder and the way the characters were built up was done very well. I liked the style of writing as it was really engrossing and I flew through the book needing to know what happened next. I'm not sure if I would continue with this if it was a series but as a one off, it was a fun and easy read. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This was a really interesting mix of pure crime fiction and a literary love letter. The actual set up to the murder and the way the characters were built up was done very well. I liked the style of writing as it was really engrossing and I flew through the book needing to know what happened next. I'm not sure if I would continue with this if it was a series but as a one off, it was a fun and easy read. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Tobey

    While I had heard of Jean Harlow, I was not familiar with her life. Her career did not last very long as she died in her 20s. This book uses her as the basis for the mystery and activities, but it is so much more. I enjoyed getting to know Charlotte with her health issues and the policeman on the case. An engaging and interesting mystery. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy via NetGalley.

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