The Big Kiss-Off of 1944 by Andrew Bergman
Searching for a chorus girl’s stag film, Jack LeVine stumbles on a sinister political plot
Like all chorus girls, Kerry Lane yearns to get her name on the marquee. After years of high-kicking, she lands a bit part in a Broadway smash hit which should lead to better things. The only thing holding her back is her past: specifically a series of stag films from her days as a struggling wannabe film starlet. When a blackmailer demands a payoff to keep them out of the public eye, Kerry comes to Jack LeVine. Stocky, sweaty, and bald, LeVine is a Jewish private detective who makes a living by being polite. But underneath his smile lies a bulldog.
Lured by long legs and a roll of crisp twenties, LeVine takes Kerry’s case. But before he can speak to the blackmailer, the crook turns up dead. As LeVine hunts for Kerry’s pictures, he finds that the heart of this case is even uglier than greed, lust, or murder. It’s politics.
“Bergman, a child of our times, has the kind of social conscience that Hammett & co. did not bother much about.” - New York Times
“It is without doubt the nearest thing to genuine Chandler I’ve ever come across. . . . Tough, witty—very witty—and a beautiful eye for period detail, which makes it a smashing read.” - Jack Higgins
“By far the best mystery comedy I’ve seen in some time, it’s a fine piece of invention, written with great energy and humanity and style.” - Ross Macdonald
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