You can read the Groucho Marx Mysteries as detective stories in an historical setting. Certainly, they’re conceived and plotted along those lines, and they work as mysteries. The fifth book in the series, in which Groucho exposes Nazi spies in Hollywood, certainly does. But for me the main attraction of these charming little books is the madcap humor of Groucho Marx (1890-1977), which author Ron Goulart captures perfectly in the dialogue. Marx himself comes across in these pages as the complex man he was: a brilliant comedian with the fastest tongue in the West, a deadly serious observer of the world around him, and, in all likelihood, a profoundly unhappy person whose personal relationships were often deeply flawed.
Groucho Marx, Secret Agent (Groucho Marx Mysteries #5) by Ron Goulart (2002) 229 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
In Groucho Marx, Secret Agent, the fifth book in the series, Groucho and his sidekick, scriptwriter Frank Denby, become immersed in the effort to root out Nazi spies in Hollywood. The year is 1939, and war had come to Europe with the German invasion of Poland. Hollywood was host to a long list of illustrious German emigrés (Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Arnold Schoenberg) and among them, and in the German Consulate in Los Angeles, there were believed to be many Gestapo spies. This often hilarious novel spotlights the murder of a Hollywood director who turns out not to be the man people thought he was. It’s all about German espionage in LA’s other major industry — airplane production — and sleuthing by Groucho and his Watson stand-in to expose the spies at work there. If you’re looking for something light to read, you should enjoy this clever little story.
For further reading
I’ve reviewed all six of the books in this series at The delightful Groucho Marx Mysteries.
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