Bess’ Book Recs: Murder at the Palace by Margaret Dumas

I admit, at first I was skeptical. At first I thought this was going to be a historical mystery (just look at that cover!) and I’m not a fan. However, I was wrong.

Murder at the Palace, it turns out, is a traditional/cozy style mystery with a love of classic movies. Now that I can get behind. (Witness my love for Elliott Freed’s Double Feature series.) Books set in the past? Eh. Contemporary books that adore classic films? Totally my thing. Apparently.

Protagonist Nora has fled L.A. and the gossip about her cheating soon-to-be-ex husband for San Francisco. Odd choice? Maybe, but only until you learn that her BFF owns a classic movie theater in need of a manager. It’s an easy job, a place to hide out, and a chance to figure out what to do with her life.

It’s also only available because the previous manager was murdered. Maybe. The circumstances around her death are a little fuzzy, but not terribly alarming. At least, not until Nora’s first day on the job includes finding a dead guy.


The rest of the book is awesome. Nora pokes around her predecessor’s life in mostly realistic ways. The rest of the cast keep her life interesting–the projectionist hates her guts. Her ex-husband is discovering that life sucks without her handling all the little details for him. And Hector is my favorite maybe-romantic-lead in a while. Who doesn’t like a little dash of danger and power in a literary partner? I sincerely hope he sticks around in the sequels.

The plot elements that show up are topical and I learned things I didn’t know, but not in an “oh my god I’m back at school” kind of way. More in an “oh, cool. Kevin, did you know this?” way.

Oh. And there’s a ghost. I usually don’t like ghosts (they give me the willies, okay?) but Trixie is pretty chill. Trixie can stay.

I’m super excited for the future of this series, and deeply regretting not picking up a copy of my own at Malice Domestic.

Anyone else have a weird fondness for mystery-books-about-old-movies? Is there another series I should check out? Let me know!

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