Five Star, Aug 10 2011, $25.95
In 1922, the affluent residents of Pasadena, California consider Daisy Gumm Majesty a highly regarded spiritualist as Desdemona. Hollywood especially enjoys seeing those who communicate with the beyond and as such are frequent patrons of Daisy. She knows her spiritualist work keeps her family fed as her spouse Billy returned from the war with failing health due to a German bullet and the Kaiser’s mustard gas that keep him wheelchair bound.
Daisy worries about her husband but practices her trade. Due to Daisy’s friend Harold Kinkaid, Desdemona hosts a séance attended by silent screen star Lola de la Monica. The impressed actress hires Desdemona as the spiritualist on her latest movie. Making matters difficult for Daisy is Billy’s best friend police detective Sam Rotondo‚ who she is attracted to, works on the same set. When threatening letters frighten Lola, Daisy and Harold investigate.
Genteel Spirits is a warm Daisy Gumm Majesty historical tale (see Hungry Spirits) that brings to Southern California in the aftermath of the war to end all wars. The cast including Spike the obedience school expelled canine makes the story line humorous and optimistic but is counterbalanced by Billy’s health. The mystery serves as a subordinate subplot to the sense of time and place of people trying to move on with their lives following the war. Alice Duncan provides a delightful spotlight on Pasadena and Hollywood circa 1922.