In the Key of Death
Robert S. Levinson
Five Star, Mar 2008, $25.95
Although he has tried for several years to find proof to substantiate his belief that Golden Age Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Clyde “Mr. Magic” Davenport killed his beloved wife, noted singer Katie Sunshine, former LAPD Detective Josh Wainwright has failed. Keshawna Keyes, his private investigator partner at International Celebrity Services, has tried to get him to move on, but Josh remains fixated and frustrated.
Josh’s quest gets new life when former star Billy the Kid Palmer commits suicide after a visit from Mr. Magic who magnanimously provides a college trust fund for the son of his deceased former singer. That incident is followed by the murder of Mr. Magic’s girlfriend Ava Gardner at the music mogul’s Magic Land estate. The police believe Mr. Magic killed her, but he insists he did not. He hires Josh to protect him and to prove his innocence as he knows the obsessed widower will do anything to affirm his guilt. Now Josh is inside, but as he begins to unravel the truth behind Katie’s murder, other former performers of Mr. Magic die.
Although the premise that a music mogul seeks revenge against the acts he turned into stars who dumped him seems a stretch; readers will enjoy this private investigative thriller with an excellent late twist. The story line is fast-paced while the adversaries seem real as both are fixated on their respective quest. The scene in which Mr. Magic chats about the future with Billy the Kid is chilling and sets the tone for an entertaining thriller.