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.
Dead Men Pay No Debts
Among the hard and fast rules in Joe Bernardi's life is this one: Do not, under any circumstances, travel east during the winter months. In this way one avoids dealing with snow. ice. sleet. frostbite and pneumonia. Unfortunately he has had to break this rule and having done so. is paying the price. His novel "A Family of Strangers" has been optioned for a major motion picture and he needs to fly east in January to meet with the talented director who has taken the option. Stuart Rosenberg. in the midst of directing "Murder. Inc," an expose of the 1930's gang of killers for hire. has insisted Joe write the screenplay and he needs several days to guide Joe in the right direction. Reluctantly Joe agrees. a decision which he will quickly rue when he finds himself up to his belly button with drug dealers. loan sharks. Mafia hit men. wannabe Broadway stars and an up and coming New York actor named Peter Falk who may be on the verge of stardom. Someone has beaten drug dealer Gino Finucci to death and left his body in the basement of The Mudhole. an off-off- Broadway theater which is home to Amythyst Breen. a one time darling of Broadway struggling to find her way back to the top and also Johnathon Harker. slimy and ambitious. an actor caught in the grip of drug addiction even as he struggles to get that one lucky break that will propel him to stardom. Even as Joe fights to remain above the fray. he can feel himself being inexorably drawn into the intrigue of underworld vendettas culminating in a face to face confrontation with Carlo Gambino. the boss of bosses. and the most powerful Mafia chieftain in New York Ciity.
Apple Annie and the Dude
Joe Bernardi is a sucker for a sad story and especially when it comes from an old pal like Lila James who, after years of trying, has landed a plum assignment as a movie publicist. Frank Capra has okayed her for his newest film, A Pocketful of Miracles, now shooting on the Paramount lot. Get this right and her little company has a big future which is when God intervenes by inflicting her with a broken leg which will put her out of commission for at least a couple of weeks. Enter Joe as Sir Galahad to save the day and fill in. A simple favor, you say? Not so fast. First he’ll have to deal with Heather Leeds, Lila’s assistant, an ambitious tart in the mold of Eve Harrington, a devious cupcake who makes enemies the way Betty Crocker makes biscuits.
Making his job even more difficult are the on-set feuds between Bette Davis and Glenn Ford with Capra getting migraines trying to referee. And then the fun really starts as a mysterious woman named Claire Philby from Northwestern University shows up to give Heather an award and maybe something else she never bargained for. Who killed Heather Leeds? Was it Philby or maybe Heather’s husband Buddy Lovejoy, a struggling television writer, or perhaps even his writing partner, Seth Donnelley. And what about Heather’s ex-husband Travis Wright who was just released from prison and claims Heather owes him $9,000,000 which he left in her care? Of more concern to Joe is the shadow of suspicion that has fallen on Dexter Craven, an old friend from the Warner Bros. days. Good old Lila, she’s lying peacefully in a hospital bed while Joe deals with a nest of vipers, one of which is a cold blooded killer, and a movie in the making which is being tattered by conflicting egos. It’s enough to make a man long for happier days when he was slogging through muddy France at the tail-end of World War II.
'Till Death Us Do Part
Who would want to kill a sweet old guy like Mike O'Malley, the prop master on Universal's "To Kill a Mockingbird? Nobody, but dead he is, the victim of a hit and run that looks more like a deliberate murder than accidental death. More likely the killer was after Mike's grandson Rory who had earned the enmity of Hank Greb, a burly mean-spirited teamster, as well as Wayne Daniels, a wannabe actor, who claims erroneously that Rory's carelessness caused his face to be disfigured. Is this any of Joe Bernardi's business? Not really but when he showed up on the Mockingbird set as a favor to his hospitalized partner, Bertha Bowles, to woo newcomer William Windom to join the Bowles & Bernardi management firm, Joe was sucked into the situation right up to his tonsils. Something he had little time for since his first priority was handling publicity for "Lillies of the Field", a Sidney Poitier film, shooting in Tucson. Meanwhile, Joe, who longs to write a second novel, has become increasingly bored with working at movie promotion and publicity. A twist of fate finds him befriended by Truman Capote and by Harper Lee who, like Joe, is trying to find that elusive second novel. Both are huge admirers of Joe's highly praised first novel and vow to help Joe get it made as a motion picture, even as Joe tries to expose the truth about Mike O'Malley's death.
How do you make a movie when the star of your dreams, eager to sign, is suddenly faced with a murder charge and could spend the rest of his life cooped up in San Quentin? Joe Bernardi, author, screenwriter and possibly a co-producer, has traveled north along the California Coastline to Bodega Bay to hobnob with Rod Taylor who is filming Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, 'The Birds.' Rod is on the verge of signing the contract when a funny thing happens. The body of a young attractive redhead named Amanda Broome is found dead in the trunk of his Corvette. Taylor screams frame-up, even though Amanda has been stalking him for weeks and they had a violent and very public argument only hours before her body was discovered. Further filming of 'The Birds' is in jeopardy and so is the filming of Joe's movie based on his best-selling book. Looming large in the midst of this is Henrietta Boyle, a county attorney with gubernatorial ambitions and what better way to grease the path to the State House than to convict a famous movie star of homicide. But who else might have an interest in seeing Amanda dead? Perhaps her aunt, executrix of a trust fund which would have made Amanda a millionairess in a few short weeks. A definite possibility. Determined to prove Taylor innocent, Joe follows a trail that leads from a teen hangout in Palo Alto to the halls of academia to a posh country club where a triple A credit rating is the first requirement for membership. When a mysterious car tries to run Joe off the road into a deep and deadly crevasse in the hills above the Bay, he knows he's getting close to the truth but will the truth be revealed before Joe becomes buzzard bait?
The night was dark. Clouds obscured the moon. The elaborate yacht owned by Joseph Kennedy lay at anchor in Monterey Bay. Shortly past midnight a shot rang out. A man aboard the yacht had been murdered. The police ferried out to the boat and found nothing amiss and the next morning Kennedy’s ‘Highland Rose’ continued its journey north to San Francisco. Rumors abounded and for thirty-five years the events of that night in 1929 have been hidden in mystery. And now it is 1964 and it has fallen to Joe Bernardi to solve the mystery and write the book that tells the truth about that terrible night. The rumored victim, an obscure talent agent named Archie Farrell. The rumored murderer, Joseph P. Kennedy himself. Witnesses to the rumored killing, film stars Gloria Swanson and Gladys George, writer Frances Marion, and producer Edward Albee, among others. And why, after thirty-five years, has the solution to this killing become so important? Because 1964 is an election year and John F. Kennedy will be running again for the Presidency. Will he succeed? There are those who hope he will not and they are working on a hatchet job, an expose of Joe Kennedy as a philanderer and a killer showing the President to be the seed of evil. Deadly forces array themselves against Joe in his quest for truth. It appears that the secret of the Highland Rose must be kept hidden at all costs while the fate of the country hangs in the balance.
Ashes To Ashes
His name is Armitage McLeod but he is better known in the business as Anonymous Army. That’s because he toils in the shadows, highly talented and well paid but none of his best movies lists his name as a screenwriter. He is a script doctor, caring little for credit. Every major studio has used him over and over again and he always delivers. He is also one of Joe Bernardi’s oldest and dearest friends, a man who literally saved Joe’s life on more than one occasion. And so when the phone rang in his office, Joe listened panic-stricken as Army reached out in a garbled plea for help that abruptly ended in mid-sentence. It took Joe two days to find out where Army was calling from and when he did he hopped the next available plane to Yuma, Arizona, where they were shooting a Jimmy Stewart survival picture called ‘The Flight of the Phoenix’. When he arrived, he found that Army was among the missing, having disappeared without a trace throwing the production into turmoil. Despite what most directors believe, a production without a talented writer standing by for emergencies, is a production in deep trouble. Thus began a search for his old friend which suddenly threw Joe into the middle of a drug war between notorious mobster Mickey Cohen and the Crips, a bloodthirsty black gang spawned by the L.A. ghettos. His attempts to find his old friend are stymied at every turn by a bigoted chief of police and when the body of an attractive young woman is found in the desert close by the film location, Joe finds himself having to answer for a lot more than curiosity.
Ashes To Ashes
The Case of the Shaggy Stalker
Once again there’s a chance that the first Sam August film will be made because handsome and virile leading man Robert Wagner is interested. Joe Bernardi, the fertile brain behind this literary super spy, can’t wait to pin Wagner down to a contract, but when he visits the set of Paul Newman’s newest film, ‘Harper”, in which Wagner co-stars, strange circumstances pop into view. Why is Wagner’s newest stand-in being introduced to him as Ben Boxer when Joe knows perfectly well that Boxer’s real name is Gunnar Larsen, the number one guy in private investigator Cosmo Stryker’s stable of operatives. And why can’t he get straight answers to simple questions? What does Wagner need to hide? A great deal, it turns out. A schlock novelist from his wife Marian’s past has turned up and is scaring the devil out of the entire family. Notifying the police is only asking for unwanted publicity, hence the services of Cosmo Stryker. But when the novelist, Horatio Cummings, is murdered in a back alley, the circumstances clumsily arranged to look like a mugging gone bad, Wagner suddenly becomes suspect number one. Luckily there exist suspects number two, three and four, etc. For example a five foot tall Cockney femme fatale and her Irish lawyer or the on-the-cheap B Movie producer Garrison King or lumbering Tough Tony Trippi, once a hero on Omaha Beach, now one of the most feared loan sharks in the city. And what’s all this have to do with a woman who lays dying in a hospice in Belfast, Northern Ireland? Joe is going to have to do a lot of unraveling to get Wagner out of hot water and into his cherished movie.
Warner's Last Stand
For most of us, there are times in our lives that we will remember until the day we die. Such a time occurred when Joe Bernardi received a cry for help from Jack Warner. Warner was still nominally the head of the studio but lately he had been losing his grip due to mergers and other concessions. He was personally producing Camelot with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave but it was not going well. Even worse, in Texas Warren Beatty was producing and starring in something called ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ about a bunch of bizarre bank robbers. Part comedy and part bloody melodrama it was a movie in progress with which Warner was totally unfamiliar and he was suddenly terrified of becoming irrelevant in an industry which he had helped establish. Desperate he turned to Joe for help, begging his long time friend to travel to Texas to find out if, as he suspected, the lunatics were taking over the asylum. Never one to turn his back on an old friend, Joe traveled to Dallas where he learned first hand that Beatty was indeed creating a new kind of movie, one that threatened to change the nature of the film industry for years to come. He also found himself in the middle of a war between the authorities and the local drug lord with Joe’s life and limbs squarely on the line. Beatty was not happy, rightfully aware that Joe had been asked by Warner to spy on the company. Faye Dunaway was using her considerable wiles to get Joe to create a female federal agent that Faye could ride to fame and riches in a successful film franchise while Estelle Parsons was imploring Joe to intercede on behalf of her black teamster driver who had suddenly becomes a victim of police racism. Within a couple of days Joe wished longingly that he was free of this chaos and back in Los Angeles, cuddling in the arms of his loving wife Bunny. Texas, he had discovered, was no place for the faint of heart and he had the bruises and broken ribs to prove it.
The Man in the Raincoat
Lee J. Cobb said no. So did a few other people. Finally Bing Crosby was offered the part and turned it down. Too time consuming, too much like work and it would definitely interfere with his golf game. So Universal was down to their 7th choice to play the unprepossessing, overly polite, apparently not-too-bright police lieutenant in their upcoming Movie of the Week. Luckily for the studio they made the offer and Peter Falk accepted and thus was born a television icon.The vehicle was called 'Diagnosis:Murder' written by Dick Levinson and Bill Link and based on their stage play. When Falk signed to play Lt. Columbo, he made it clear that he had no interest in doing a weekly series and all references to a possible series were excised from the contract. Neither Universal nor NBC was worried. If the show proved popular, they would shove a lot of money in Peter Falk's direction. Such a ploy had never failed before. It was foolproof. Well, not exactly because Falk was no fool and when he said "No series!" he meant no series. Joe Bernardi was targeted to get Falk to change his mind but it was useless. Peter Falk was, and always had been, his own man and he was adamant. One movie, no series. Meanwhile the publisher of a scandal magazine, Nathan Haller, is about to reveal that at one time Falk was a card carrying member of the Communist Party (untrue). When Joe bullies Haller into backing down, Haller turns his sights on Joe's wife Bunny. Threats are publicly hurled and days later Haller falls to his death from the roof of the Universal Studios Tower and Joe is accused of murder. Between fending off pressure from the studio and eluding the cops, a week in Joe's life has turned into a 24 hour a day nightmare. How much worse can things get? Read on.
It's one thing to write about the adventures of a daring superspy, it's quite another to try to emulate him but that's the fix Joe Bernardi finds himself in after the CIA recruits him for a 'routine' little assignment in Switzerland. Gregor Rostov, an old friend from days gone by, wants to defect to America but he won't make the move unless he knows he is not being set up by the KGB. Enter Joe to validate the bona fides of the people Rostov has been dealing with. A simple matter? You would think so but when it comes to international intrigue nothing is simple as Joe quickly finds out. Hired on as a writer with a fictitious name by the producers of the latest James Bond film, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' Joe travels from Switzerland to Italy encountering both murderous Russians as well as a nest of resurgent Nazis determined to revive the Third Reich, even as his friend Gregor falls in love with his KGB handler Sonya Petrovna. The Krauts and the Russkies both have their scopes trained on Joe's back as the story races to an explosive finale in a Zurich mansion which was once the home of Adolf Hitler.
Adventure Beneath The Alps
Creator and Executive Producer of
"Murder, She Wrote"
and Author of
"The Hollywood Murder Mysteries"