Tell It Tuesday: Toby Peters Edition

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Tell It Tuesday: Toby Peters Edition

I can’t remember when I first discovered Stuart M. Kaminsky’s Toby Peters mysteries, but it had to be about twenty years ago. It was surely one of the snappy titles that caught my eye, like Bullet for a Star, Murder on the Yellow Brick Road, or Mildred Pierced. As a fan of 1940’s culture, private eye thrillers, and classic films, these fast-paced stories were like catnip for my brain, hitting all the right buttons every time.

Toby Peters, the titular investigator, is a hard-luck guy, beset with chronic back pain, a small bank account, and an office he shares with an unhygienic dentist. Most books see him shot at, chased, beaten up, scorned, and rejected, all of which he takes with a philosophical grain of salt. He’s smart, but bad luck during his investigations usually keeps him from making a skillful save or assembling all the suspects for a classic villain reveal. More usually he stumbles into the truth, a realistic touch I particularly savor.

A truly special facet of these books is all the cameo appearances by real-life folks from Old Hollywood, including the Marx Brothers, Clark Gable, and Mae West. Stuart M. Kaminsky was a cinema professor in real life, and he employs these guest appearances with skill and verve. He also pulls out all the stops at creating a believable 1940’s world for Toby to wander around in. From the advertisements our hero hears on the radio to the looming threat of war, the reader can gain a true sense of the period.

Just last week I decided to re-read all these books, since it’s been years since I picked one up. They’re available as eBooks now, or you could search out hardcover versions as I plan to do. Give Toby Peters a shot. How could you not love a character who eats cold cereal for dinner and tries to take care of an uncooperative stray cat?humphrey-bogart-619157_640And here’s a picture (copyright free!) of Bogey and Bacall, just to set the mood. Sadly, Toby Peters isn’t as cool as Humphrey, but in an odd coincidence, they do appear together in Bullet For a Star.

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