Jezebel in Blue Satin (Book One)
WWII is over and Joe Bernardi has just returned home after three years as a war correspondent in Europe. Married in the heat of passion three weeks before he shipped out, he has come home to find his wife Lydia is a complete stranger. It's not long before Lydia's off to Reno for a quikie divorce which Joe won't accept. Meanwhile he's been hired as a publicist by third-rate movie studio, Continental pictures. One night he enters a darkened sound stage only to discover the dead body of ambitious would-be actress Maggie Baumann. When the police investigate, they immediately zero in on Joe as the perp. Short on evidence they attempt to frame him and almost succeed. Desperate to clear himself and uncover the identity of the actual killer, Joe enlists the help of Russ Parmelee, the studio's chief of security. There's no shortage of suspects: ...May Britton, over the hill actress trying to make a comeback ...Brick Baxter, whose brief career as a leading man is being threatened by the return of real stars like Gable and Power and Stewart. ...Kingman Krug, a hack director who would rather be helming his next epic film instead of this movie trash. ...Dave Clancy who claims to be a reporter from Chicago but is someone else altogether. ...Leo Blaustein, studio hatchetman who may have been keeping Maggie in a plush apartment. ...Al Kaplan, an ex husband still carrying a red-hot torch. ...Sal Maggio, a man of many interests, most of them illegal who has a highly personal reason for wanting this film to succeed. The story moves headlong toward an exciting and unexpected ending, weaving it's way through a web of blackmail, betrayal and extortion.
We Don't Need No Stinking Badges (Book Two)
Joe Bernardi was the new guy in Warner Brothers Press Department so it was no surprise when Joe was given the unenviable task of flying to Tampico, Mexico to bail Humphrey Bogart out of jail without the world learning about it. When he arrived he discovered that Bogie wasn't the problem. So-called accidents were occurring daily on the set, slowing down the filming of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and putting tempers on edge. Everyone knows who's behind the sabotage, it's the local Jefe who has a finger in every illegal pie. But suddenly the intrigue widens and the murder of one of the actors throws the company into turmoil. Day by day, Joe finds himself drawn into a dangerous web of deceit, duplicity and blackmail. A lot of people would like to see these movie-making yankees go home, including: .....Benito Santiago, Tampico's chief of police who is out to nail El Jefe no matter what it takes. .....Hal Croves, the mysterious stranger who may or not be the author of the book on which the movie is based. .....Jose Herrera, the chauffeur who is obviously much, much more than a car driver. .....Miguel Iglesia, the icy and arrogant Captain of the Federales who has arrived from Mexico City to take charge of the investigation. .....Phil Drago, the incompetent associate producer, in over his head with no idea what to do about it. .....Carlos Martinez, the sweaty little head of the Mexican Film Commission, always too anxious to please. .....Pablo Rivera, the retired police detective, unprincipled and untrustworthy.
Love Has Nothing To Do With It
Joe Bernardi's ex-wife Lydia is in big, big, trouble. On a Sunday evening she gets a panic call from one time lover Tyler Banks to bring an envelope from his beach house safe to his office. When she arrives he is visibly frightened and orders her to leave but once outside the building, she hears a shot. She runs back inside and finds Tyler dead on the floor and the envelope missing. She races from the office into the night, fearing for her life and unwilling to trust the cops. She goes into hiding even as the police instigate a city wide search for her. Even though Joe has found a new love in reporter Bunny Lesher, he feels he cannot abandon his former wife.Convinced that she is innocent, he enlists the help of his pal, Lawyer Ray Giordano, and bail bondsman Mick Clausen, to prove Lydia's innocence, even as his assignment to publicise Jimmy Cagney's comeback movie for Warner Brothers threatens to take up all his time and Bunny's fear of losing Joe to his ex-wife endangers their relationship. WHO REALLY KILLED TYLER BANKS? WAS IT..... Amanda Banks.....the abused wife who had been cheated on one too many times Sean Flaherty.....rich and powerful, his past may have included murder Stan Schick.....a man with no conscience to whom murder comes easily Jake Pepper.....he not only wanted the business, he wanted the wife as well Tom Hickey.....an actor with a temper whose big break was snatched away Anthony Bracco.....a cop whose daughter became Tyler Banks plaything .....or was it someone else?
Everybody Wants An Oscar (Book Four)
After six long years, Joe Bernardi’s novel is at last finished and has been shipped to a major publisher. But even as he awaits news, fingers crossed for luck, things are heating up at the studio. Soon production will begin on Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” and Jane Wyman has her sights set on a second consecutive Academy Award. Jack Warner has just signed Gertrude Lawrence for the pivotal role of Amanda and is positive that the Oscar will go to Gertie. And meanwhile, Eleanor Parker, who has gotten rave reviews for a woman’s prison picture called “Caged” is sure that 1950 is her year to take home the trophy. Faced with three very talented ladies, all vying for his very best efforts, Joe is resigned to performing a monumental juggling act. Thank God he has nothing else to worry about or at least that was the case until his agent informed him that a screenplay is floating around Hollywood that is a dead ringer for his newly completed novel. Will the ladies be forced to take a back seat as Joe goes after the thief that has stolen his work, his good name and six years of his life...
The Unkindness of Strangers (Book Five)
Warner Brothers is getting it from all sides and Joe Bernardi seems to be everybody’s favorite target. “A Streetcar Named Desire” is unproducible, they say. Too violent, too seedy, too sexy, too controversial and what’s worse, it’s being directed by that well-known pinko, Elia Kazan. To make matters worse, the country’s number one hate monger, newspaper columnist Bryce Tremayne, is coming after Kazan with a vengeance and nothing Joe can do or say will stop him. A vicious expose column is set to run in every Hearst paper across the nation on the upcoming Sunday but a funny thing happens Friday night. Tremayne is found in a compromising condition behind the wheel of his car, a bullet hole between his eyes. Come Sunday and the scurrilous attack on Kazan does not appear. Rumors fly. Kazan is suspected but he’s not the only one with a motive. Consider: • Elvira Tremayne, the unloved widow. Did Tremayne slug her one time too many? • Hubbell Cox, the world weary flunky, whose homosexuality made him a target of derision. • Willie Babbitt, the muscle. He does what he’s told and what he’s told to do is often unpleasant. • Jenny Coughlin, Tremayne’s private secretary. But how private and what was her secret agenda? • Jed Tompkins, Elvira’s father, a rich Texas cattle baron, who had only contempt for his son-in-law. • Boyd Larrabee, the bookkeeper, hired by Tompkins to win Cox’s confidence and report back anything he’s learned. • Annie Petrakis, studio makeup artist. Tremayne destroyed her lover. Has she returned the favor?
Nice Guys Finish Dead (Book Six)
Ned Sharkey is a fugitive from mob revenge. For six years he's been successfully hiding out in the Los Angeles area while a $100,000 contract for his demise hangs over his head. But when Warner Brothers begins filming "The Winning Team", the story of Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ned can't resist showing up at the ballpark to reunite with his old pals from the Chicago Cubs of the early 40's who have cameo roles in the film. Big mistake. When Joe Bernardi, Warner Brothers publicity guy, inadvertently sends a press release a photo of Ned to the Chicago papers, mysterious people from the Windy City suddenly appear and a day later at break of dawn, Ned's body is found is found sprawled atop the pitcher's mound. It appears that someone is a hundred thousand dollars richer. Or maybe not. Who is the 22 year old kid posing as a 50 year old former hockey star? And what about Gordo Gagliano, a mountain of a man, who is out to find Ned no matter who he has to hurt to succeed? And why did baggy pants comic Fats McCoy jump Ned and try to kill him in the pool parlor? It sure wasn't about money. Joe, riddled with guilt because the photo he sent to the newspapers may have led to Ned's death, finds himself embroiled in a dangerous game of who-dun-it that leads from L.A.'s Wrigley Field to an upscale sports bar in Altadena to the posh mansions of Pasadena and finally to the swank clubhouse of Santa Anita racetrack.
Pray For Us Sinners (Book Seven)
Joe finds himself in Quebec but it's no vacation. Alfred Hitchcock is shooting a suspenseful thriller called "I Confess" and Montgomery Clift is playing a priest accused of murder. A marriage made in heaven? Hardly. They have been at loggerheads since Day One and to make matters worse their feud is spilling out into the newspapers. When vivacious Jeanne D'Arcy, the director of the Quebec Film Commission volunteers to help calm the troubled waters, Joe thinks his troubles are over but that was before Jean got into a violent spat with a former lover and suddenly found herself under arrest on a charge of first degree murder. Guilty or not guilty? Half the clues say she did it, the other half say she is being brilliantly framed. But by who? Fingers point to the crooked Gonsalvo brothers who have ties to the Buffalo mafia family and when Joe gets too close to the truth, someone tries to shut him up… permanently. With the Archbishop threatening to shut down the production in the wake of the scandal, Joe finds himself torn between two loyalties
Has Anybody Here Seen Wyckham? (Book Eight)
Everything was going smoothly on the set of "The High and the Mighty" until the cast and crew returned from lunch. With one exception. Wiley Wyckham, the bit player sitting in seat 24A on the airliner mockup, is among the missing, and without Wyckham sitting in place, director William Wellman cannot continue filming. A studio wide search is instituted. No Wyckham. A lookalike is hired that night, filming resumes the next day and still no Wyckham. Except that by this time, it's been discovered that Wyckham, a British actor, isn't really Wyckham at all but an imposter who very well may be an agent for the Russian Government. The local police call in the FBI. The FBI calls in British counterintelligence. A manhunt for the missing actor ensues and Joe Bernardi, the picture's publicist, is right in the middle of the intrigue. Everyone's upset, especially John Wayne who is furious to learn that a possible commie spy has been working in a picture he's producing and starring in. And then they find him. It's the dead of night on the Warner Brothers backlot and Wyckham is discovered hanging by his feet from a streetlamp, his body bloodied and tortured and very much dead, and pinned to his shirt is a piece of paper with the inscription "Sic Semper Proditor". (Thus to all traitors). Who was this man who had been posing as an obscure British actor? How did he smuggle himself into the country and what has he been up to? Has he been blackmailing an important higher up in the film business and did the victim suddenly turn on him? Is the MI6 agent from London really who he says he is and what about the reporter from the London Daily Mail who seems to know all the right questions to ask as well all the right answers.
Eyewitness To Murder (Book Nine)
Go to New York? Not on your life. It's a lousy idea for a movie. A two year old black and white television drama? It hasn't got a prayer. This is the age of Cinemascope and Vistavision and steroephonic sound and yes, even 3-D. Burt Lancaster and Harold Hecht must be out of their minds to think they can make a hit movie out of "Marty". But then Joe Bernardi gets word that the love of his life, Bunny Lesher, is in New York and in trouble and so Joe changes his mind. He flies east to talk with the movie company and also to find Bunny and dig her out of whatever jam she's in. He finds that "Marty" is doing just fine but Bunny's jam is a lot bigger than he bargained for. She's being held by the police as an eyewitness to a brutal murder of a close friend in a lower Manhatten police station. Only a jammed pistol saved Bunny from being the killer's second victim and now she's in mortal danger because she knows what the man looks like and he's dead set on shutting her up. Permanently. Crooked lawyers, sleazy con artists ans scheming businessmen cross Joe's path, determined to keep him from the truth and when the trail leads to the sports car racing circuit at Lime Rock in Connecticut, it's Joe who becomes the killer's prime target.
A Deadly Shoot In Texas (Book Ten)
Joe Bernardi's in Marfa, Texas, and he's not happy. The tarantulas are big enough to carry off the cattle, the wind's strong enough to blow Marfa into New Mexico, and the temperature would make the Congo seem chilly. A few miles out of town Warner Brothers is shooting Edna Ferber's "Giant" with a cast that includes Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean and Jack Warner is paying through the nose for Joe's expertise as a publicist. After two days in Marfa Joe finds himself in a lonely cantina around midnight, tossing back a few cold ones, and being seduced by a gorgeous student young enough to be his daughter. The flirtation goes nowhere but the next morning little Miss Coed is found dead. And there's a problem. The coroner says she died between eight and nine o'clock. Not so fast, says Joe, who saw her alive as late as one a.m.. When he points this out to the County Sheriff, all hell breaks loose and Joe becomes the target of some pretty ornery people. Like the Coroner and Sheriff as well as the most powerful rancher in the county, his arrogant no-good son and his two flunkies, a crooked lawyer and a grieving father looking for justice or revenge. Either one will do.
Will Joe expose the murderer before the murderer turns Joe into Texas roadkill?
Everybody Let's Rock (Book Eleven)
Big trouble is threatening the career of one of the country's hottest new teen idols and Joe Bernardi has been tapped to get to the bottom of it. Call it blackmail or call it extortion, a young woman claims that a nineteen year old Elvis Presley impregnated her and then helped arrange an abortion. There's a letter and a photo to back up her claim. Nonsense, says Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis's manager and mentor. It's a damned lie. Joe is not so sure but Parker is adamant. The accusation is totally bogus and somebody's got to prove it. But no police can be involved and no lawyers. Just a whiff of scandal and the young man's future will be destroyed, even though he's in the midst of filming a movie that could turn him into a bona fide film star. Joe heads off to Memphis under the guise of promoting Elvis's new film and finds himself mired in a web of deceit and danger. Trusted by no one he searches in vain for the woman behind the letter, crossing paths with Sam Philips of Sun Records, a vindictive alcoholic newspaper reporter, a disgraced doctor with a seedy past, and a desperate con artist determined to keep Joe from the truth.
A Touch of Homicide
It takes a lot to impress Joe Bernardi. He likes his job and the people he deals with but nobody is really special. Nobody, that is, except for Orson Welels, and when Avery Sterling, a bottom feeding excuse for a producer, asks Joe's help in saving Welles from an industry-wide smear campaign, Joe jumps in, heedless that the pool he has just plunged into is as dry as a vermouthless martini. A couple of days later, Sterling is found dead in his office and the police immediately zero in on two suspects-Joe who has an alibi and Welles who does not. Not to worry, there are plenty of clues at the crime scene including a blood stained monogrammed hankercief, a rejected screenplay, a pair of black-rimmed reading glasses, a distinctive gold earring and petals from a white carnation. What's more, no less than four people threatened to kill him in front of witnesses. A case so simple a two-year old could solve it but the cop on the case is a dimwit whose uncle is on the staff of the police commissioner. Will Joe and Orson solve the case before one of them gets arrested for murder? Will an out-of-town hitman kill one or both of them? Worst of all, will Orson leave town leaving Joe holding the proverbial bag?
Some Like 'Em Dead (Book Thirteen)
After thirteen years, the great chase is over and Joe Bernardi is marrying Bunny Lesher. After a brief weekend honeymoon, it’ll be back to work for them both; Bunny at the Valley News where she has just been named Assistant Editor and Joe publicizing Billy Wilder’s new movie, "Some Like It Hot" about two musicians hiding out from the mob in an all-girl band. It boasts a great script and a stellar cast that includes Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, so what could go wrong? Plenty and it starts with Shirly Davenport, Bunny's protege at the News, who has been assigned to the entertainment pages. To placate Bunny and against his better judgement Joe gives Shirly a press credential for the shoot and from the start, she is a destructive force, alienating cast and crew, including Billy Wilder, who does not suffer fools easily. Someone must have become really fed up with her because one misty morning a few hundred yards down the beach from the famed Hotel Del Coronado, Shirley's lifeless body, her head bashed in with a blunt instrument, is discovered by joggers. This after she'd been seen lunching with George Raft; hobnobbing with up and coming actor, Vic Steele; angrily ignoring fellow journalist Hank Kendall; exchanging jeolous looks with hair stylist Evie McPherson; and making a general nuisance of herself everywhere she turned. United Artists ia aghast and so is Joe. This murder has to be solved and removed from the front pages of America's Newspapers as soon as possible or when it's released, This picture will be known as "the murder movie", hardly a selling point for a rollicking comedy.