Judith Starkston's Reviews > Murder Your Darlings

Murder Your Darlings by J.J. Murphy
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's review
Jan 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-mystery, mystery, strong-women

J.J. Murphy’s first in his Algonquin Round Table series, Murder Your Darlings (January 2011) is a thoroughly delightful read. Part screwball comedy, part literary spoof, this mystery stars Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner, Robert Benchley and others solving a murder when a prominent drama critic is found stabbed with a fountain pen under the famous Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel. Don’t be put off if you’ve never heard of the Algonquin Round Table—Murphy supplies whatever background you need, and you don’t have to have read Parker to catch her rapid fire humor.

Murphy’s depiction of New York in the 1920’s is rich and satisfying. Dorothy Parker and her cohorts fire off witty wisecracks that will keep you chortling. The scene in which Faulkner “finds his voice” is worth the price of admission—never has such a dense and difficult writer been rendered with such fun.

If you’re a fan of Jacqueline Winspear’s mysteries, this series is an excellent addition to her gorgeous, more melancholy depiction of the period between the World Wars. Murphy offers some serious moments when the dark shadow left by World War I breaks through the hilarity, but the merry crew generally brushes off these moments by knocking back a few illicit drinks at Tony Soma’s Prohibition era speakeasy. The reader knows that there’d be hell to pay if this were “real life” but for the moment we’re invited to relax and have fun with no clouds in the sky.

If you want to laugh, immerse yourself in New York in the 20’s with some of America’s famous literati, and solve a good who-dunnit on the way, you’ll like this book. I’m looking forward to the second in this series, You Might As Well Die. For more mystery and historical fiction reviews www.judithstarkston.com
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