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Bullet for a Star (Toby Peters #1)

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  383 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Hollywood detective Toby Peters does a job for one of Tinseltown’s finest

It’s been four years since security guard Toby Peters got fired from the Warner Brothers lot for breaking a screen cowboy’s arm. Since then he’s scratched out a living as a private detective—missing persons and bodyguard work, mostly—but now his old friends, the Warners, have a job for him. Someone ha
ebook, 190 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Road (first published 1977)
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I like the pictures. A lot. I’m not ashamed to admit it either, because I don’t think liking the pictures and liking books are mutually exclusive. And I love a good, strong hardboiled character as much as the next guy. So reading about Errol Flynn and Peter Lorre, along with a Gary Cooper cameo appearance, made this one extremely enticing book reading experience.

The details felt spot-on, as dames and broads and abercrombies filled nearly every page. And I found myself skipping along to the end.
The Bullet for a Star in the title of Stuart Kaminsky’s first Toby Peters’ mystery was intended for Erroll Flynn. I found this novel in my local public library, only a few miles away from where Kaminsky teaches (or taught) at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I thought I had read all of these ‘30s era detective novels, but somehow I missed the very first one. I love the way Kaminsky interweaves the realities of that era in Hollywood (and the real characters) with the fictional myste ...more
Tim Schneider
Stuart Kaminsky in general and Toby Peters in particular are like theater pop-corn. They don't have any nutritional value, but damn if they aren't addictive and fun to eat. Toby starts his series dealing with an attempt to blackmail Errol Flynn over a photo that allegedly shows Flynn with an underage girl. Not a great stretch.

I find Peters to be likeable and Kaminsky peppers the books with a ton of Easter eggs for classic movie fans. In his non-writing life, Kaminsky was a professor of Film Stu
This series is a bit different from the normal P.I. series. Set in L.A. in the 1930s and 1940s each book features a famous personality of the period. This twist, along with a great cast of characters, makes for entertaining reading. Although there is a lot of action the tone is light and humorous. Toby's gang of cohorts include a dentist you would never want working on you, a little person, and a wrestler turned poet. There are about a couple of dozen books in this enduring series.
Anirban Das
There is a certain pleasure, which I get, while reading fiction filled with original events and characters. This phenomenon was limited to my WW 2 or Cold War spy novels where actual historical figures were made to appear in the books, given dialogues, and scenes. Stuart Kaminsky’s “Bullet For A Star” his first novel to feature the 40’s era Hollywood based private detective Toby Peters, had the same theme, but with a different colour. Here instead of political figures, the men to feature where a ...more
With barely two cents to rub together and his car beginning to make threatening noises, Toby Peters, a private detective in Los Angeles, hops at the chance for a job with his former employer, Warner Studios. Arriving at the studio, Peters is given a top-secret assignment: to retrieve a photograph and negative that portray Errol Flynn in a compromising situation with a young girl. Though Errol insists that the photograph is faked, the studio's executives are anxious to retrieve it from the blackm ...more
I thought I would like Kaminsky's plot device of having his detective, Toby Peters, meeting and interacting with real Hollywood stars like Erroll Flynn, Gary Cooper, Peter Lorre, Bruce Cabot. After a few chapters it just quit working for me. The scenes between Peters and those real actors began to feel forced and contrived with bits of film history thrown in with a wink and a nod. On the set of The Maltese Falcon, Peter Lorre buttonholes Toby Peters to ask him what being a private investigator i ...more
Just another cynical, broke, Shamus cracking wise with the one liners, drink in one hand and a dame in the other. He's gonna get beat up a time or two, somebody's gonna die, the cops are gonna think he did it. But then, he will get it figured it out, the cops will let him go, and he will be back in the bar, drink in one hand, cigarette in the other, eying the dames, needin' a dollar.

Yeah, like that. If you thought the last one was good, have another.
Mike Jensen
How can a book this breezy and readable be so awful? I think it is because Kaminsky writes with craft and style but no judgment. Set in 1940 Hollywood, he peoples his novel with actors and directors still well-known today, and that is where his judgment fails him. Far too much of his research shows. It does set the story in a believable world, but is an author showing off his research. Dialog becomes silly, such as an actor referring to the film he did, then giving the year of the film for no re ...more


If you like old movies and detective novels, Kaminski is for you. Yes at times he forces the movie/movie star references and connections, but that adds to the fun - and you can't help but like Toby Peters. He reminded me of an earlier version of The Night Stalker only without the vampires and werewolves. He's a fast read, so enjoy.
Ian Hind
There is something really enjoyable about this book. It isn't clever, it isn't a particularly literary achievement. But what is it? A great old fashioned pulp private detective story, full of fist fights, double crossing, clichés. It is set on the backdrop of golden age movie sets, with Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart among others. It's hard to see the series having any great longeivity but a fun first read.
Written 1977, #1 Toby Peters, PI, 1940 Hollywood; farcical PI, historical.

Wonderful romp through Warner Brothers, following along with a dedicated and honest, if somewhat slow on the uptake, PI, as he tries to find out who’s setting Errol Flynn up for a big fall. Lots of cameo appearances, well-done and not too much of any particular one (Flynn, Bogart, Lorre, Bruce Cabot, Don Seigel, Raoul Walsh)

Takes incidents that *might* have happened (view spoiler)
Deanna Hudson
Like watching an old Hollywood movie

What a great mystery. The dialogue and characters were awesome. The inclusion of real actors from the era gave it an authentic feel. Can't wait to read the next.
Kathleen Brown
Great fun! Errol Flynn being blackmailed, cameo appearances from the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and Gary Cooper. The Private Investigator, Toby Peters, is a very likeable character.
Mary Jane

This was entertaining and a fun read. Nice to visit classic Hollywood stars and locales. Light, quick, and fun, I'll watch for others either at the library or on Kindle deals.
Strong plot and Toby Peters is an engaging lead character; story relies a lot on appearances by Hollywood stars. Quick, breezy read; recommended for hardboiled fans.
Jan C
I think I kind of came across this book almost by accident.

It was enjoyable. I look forward to the rest of the series.

In this one, someone was trying to blackmail and possibly kill Errol Flynn. Someone at Warner Bros. calls in Toby Peters, a former security employee, to find out what's going on and get it stopped.

And this makes it possible for cameo appearances by various Hollywood stars and character actors.

Toby's brother is a police detective who he keeps run-ins with.

On the whole, a fairly e
A fake but convincing photo of Errol Flynn in bed with an underage girl threatens to destroy the film star's career unless PI Toby Peters can get the negatives back from the blackmailer. The simple blackmail payoff goes south and Peters will be lucky if he keep Flynn and himself alive.

This book was a lot of fun as I am a lover of old Hollywood movies. Stuart Kaminsky has a lot of fun blending truth and folklore together in this story. He gets the tone dead-on as it feels like the book could have
Erica Lundstrom
Love it! Especially the references to the cost of things, and the way of things, in the time period.
hated this book, bored me to tears.
Fun little mystery/adventure set in 1940 Hollywood. PI Tobey Peters is hired to deliver a blackmail payment and recover a photo and negative. Erroll Flynn is the victim and the photo has been faked, but the powers that be don't want the publicity that will come out anyway.

In short order, though, Peters in knocked out, the blackmailer murdered, and the photo and money stolen. In order to get the rest of the fee, he has to track down the killer and recover the blackmail evidence and money.
Kathy  Petersen
This is really detective-lite. It's Hollywood in the 1940s, very stagey with cute references to, for instance, The Maltese Falcon and cameos by such names as Edward G. Robinson and Jack Warner - and they are little more than names. The plot isn't even that interesting. But it's quite a bit of fun and certainly easy reading.
Former policeman, former Warner Brothers security officer turned private investigator / body guard, Toby Peters is a hard boiled protagonist in a campy noir series set in Hollywood in the 1940's. Peters is called to help the studio deal with a black mail attempt against Errol Flynn. Part mystery, part parody.
A fun, light, and easy read. The author blends fictional characters with real people famous in the 1930's and 1940's. The fictionalized characters are interesting, one of whom is a dentist you wouldn't want anywhere near your teeth. An enjoyable read!
First in the Toby Peters series and I liked this more than #6 (Never Cross a Vampire. This one focuses on Errol Flynn with cameo appearances by Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Gary Cooper. Like VAMPIRE, the solution seems to be pulled out of a hat, but I love the Hollywood setting and classic movie nostalgia.
I liked the Toby Peters series back when I originally read them. Now this one seemed clunky and uneven. I love the time period and the Los Angeles setting. I love bumping into all the old movie stars. The plot twists and conclusion just seemed a little contrived to me this time around.
I am so into these older books/reads at the moment, in setting and when written. Obsessed.
I loved the fast paced action of this one and will be hunting up another. I couldn't work out who 'dunnit' which I love, who likes to guess the protaganist hey?
Sue Fischer
Stuart Kaminsky is one of my favorites, and Toby Peters, if you have ever listened to one of the sound recordings----oh what light it shines on your next read. Wonderful and memorable characters, woven with some Hollywood history.
There was an open ending, which makes me want to look up Stuart. M. Kaminsky for any other similar books. I liked it, everything was well played out. There were just enough twists to keep me going. It's definitely worth the read.
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Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2007.

Stuart M. Kaminsky is author of 50 published novels, 5 biographies, 4 textbooks and 35 short stories. He also has screenwriting credits on four produced films including ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, ENEMY TERRITORY, A WOMAN IN THE WIND and HIDDEN FEARS. He is a past president of the Mystery Writers of America and has been nomi
More about Stuart M. Kaminsky...

Other Books in the Series

Toby Peters (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (Toby Peters, #2)
  • You Bet Your Life (Toby Peters, #3)
  • The Howard Hughes Affair (Toby Peters, #4)
  • Never Cross a Vampire (Toby Peters, #5)
  • High Midnight (Toby Peters, #6)
  • Catch a Falling Clown (Toby Peters, #7)
  • He Done Her Wrong (Toby Peters, #8)
  • The Fala Factor (Toby Peters, #9)
  • Down for the Count (Toby Peters, #10)
  • The Man Who Shot Lewis Vance (Toby Peters, #11)
Death of a Dissident (Porfiry Rostnikov, #1) A Cold Red Sunrise (Porfiry Rostnikov, #5) Dead of Winter (CSI: New York, #1) Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (Toby Peters, #2) The Man Who Walked Like a Bear (Porfiry Rostnikov, #6)

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