St. Martin's, Feb 2004, 13.95, 288 pp.
For the seventh year, Hollywood gossip columnist Rick Domino hosts a live pre-show broadcast of the Academy Awards. Rick has mixed feelings about this year's show because his lover actor Shane Kirk is up for a Best Actor award. He is proud that Shane received the nomination, but disappointed that his beloved refuses to come out of the closet and acknowledge that he is gay let alone in a relationship with Rick. Adding to that insult is the fact that Shane is keeping a straight image by escorting best actress nominee Tara Perez to the ceremony.
Though Rick has to share the spotlight with predator Mitzie McGuire, their show goes over relatively smoothly though Rick does less clothing dissing of the attendees than usual as he mopes over Shane. Afterward Rick looks for Shane only to find his beloved near the corpse of Tara. The police arrive as Shane shouts his innocence and Rick is nearer to the corpse and holding the murder weapon that he picked off the ground. Though the police arrest Rick, homicide detective Terry Zane thinks things are too pat. He and Rick investigate the Hollywood scene as only a veteran police officer and a catty gossip columnist could do.
The who-done-it is fun to follow as the obviously gay Rick and his new partner the straight Terry make a humorous team who uncover a lot of Hollywood secrets during their investigation. However what makes THE BEST MURDER OF THE YEAR so enjoyable is not the homicide or the inquiries, but the satirical look at Hollywood at its most pompous and even more subtly strips the invincibility of the mystery genre fictional superstars. The movies that the nominees star in are hilarious and worth the read by themselves. Fans of a tongue in cheek (not saying which one) will want to read the adventures of Rick Domino in the world of make believe.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner