In the sixth and final entry in Ron Goulart‘s series of Groucho Marx Mysteries, the irrepressible comedian and his trusty sidekick and scriptwriter, Frank Denby, once again wander into the thicket of Hollywood studio politics to investigate a murder.
This time around, the murder victim in question is a musclebound would-be actor who has been hired to play Ty-Gor, a low-rent version of Tarzan, in the latest rip-off of the popular African jungle films. The new Ty-Gor, it turns out, is a creep, both a womanizer, a blackmailer, and nobody’s idea of a boon companion. No one is sad to see him go. But of course a murder means bad publicity for the studio, and the producer is eager to see the murderer caught as quickly as possible. Naturally, then, the producer will turn to Groucho and Frank, whose track record for success in solving homicides puts the LAPD to shame. Fair warning: don’t be surprised when Groucho Marx solves another murder.
Groucho Marx, King of the Jungle (Groucho Marx Mysteries #6) by Ron Goulart (2005) 225 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
I read the books in this series for the humor; the dialogue, especially when Groucho is in the picture, is priceless. But Goulart is a master of plotting and suspense as well, and this tale, like the five that preceded it, is satisfyingly complex.
“The best-looking cartoonist in America”
Here, as in previous tales in the series, Frank’s wife, Jane Danner (“the best-looking cartoonist in America”), plays a central role as well. She is eight months pregnant and has demanded that Frank stay out of the private eye business until well after their baby is born. But it’s she who insists that the two men investigate the murder, since her best friend is in love with the young woman the police have rashly concluded is the culprit.
Groucho Marx, womanizer
Although there are hints that Groucho is married and that he, like the murder victim, is a womanizer, Groucho goes it alone in these stories. In reality, Groucho was “opponent of women’s lib incarnate,” in the words of the New York Times. BTW, for insight into what Groucho and his brothers were really like, check out the interview with two of their daughters from the San Francisco Chronicle. (Yes, they were all womanizers.)
For additional reading
I’ve reviewed all six of the books in this series at The delightful Groucho Marx Mysteries.
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