Of the first three Toby Peters novels, this is the one which feels least satisfying. For those who don’t know (or don’t recall the last time I reviewed one of these) Toby Peters is a 1940s Hollywood detective whose cases take him to the highs and lows of tinsel-town. So far, we’ve had a case involving Errol Flynn, one with Judy Garland and now we have The Marx Brothers. But even though I spent my adolescence obsessively watching ‘Horse feathers’, ‘Monkey Business’, ‘Duck Soup’, this one is nowhere near as much fun as its predecessors.
For starters it’s set in cold Chicago rather than hot LA, and the fish out of water aspect soon gets tired. Then there’s the fact that Toby Peters has flu for most of it, which makes it a far lower energy affair. While the Marxes themselves are portrayed as much less funny offstage than on – with even Groucho coming across sour rather than witty.
It’s not a bad book by any means. There’s tough guy shenanigans and an appropriately twisty plot, it just feels distinctly average. Hopefully service will return to normal when Toby gets home.
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