The legendary ninety-four-year-old Ada Geiger was one of the twentieth century's most illustrious, controversial and remarkable cultural figures--- the only person, living or dead, who had been a colleague of both Amelia Earhart and the Rolling Stones. She was also one of Mitch's absolute idols.... When Les, the innkeeper, had contacted Mitch a few weeks back, Mitch was thrilled to participate in the event planned for Ada's return.... Les had promised him that it would be a dignified, low-key symposium.
- from David Handler's The Burnt Orange Sunrise
But Les lied. He had much bigger plans, full of Hollywood heavy-hitters, supermodels, rap music stars, high-profile athletes, and camera crews from every celebrity TV show in America. They are all to gather at the faux castle that Ada's husband had built for her in little Dorset, Connecticut. All of them would come to celebrate the return of Ada Geiger from self-imposed exile---just the kind of event Mitch Berger hates, even though idolizing Ada was one of the things that had led him into the film world as a critic. But it's too late to pull out now.
Then Mitch has a lucky break---or so he thinks at the time. The snowiest winter anyone under the age of ninety could remember has hit Dorset and vicinity with what seems like six more inches every three days. Soon, the regrets and "have to wait till tomorrows" come flowing in. The gathering is pared down to what Les had falsely promised---just a few people: Ada's immediate family, Mitch and his lover, beautiful police officer Des Mitry, and a few "deserving" others make a manageably small group. When it snows even harder, they are all prisoners of the storm.
The reduced guest list makes the job a little easier for Des and Mitch when one by one the people at the Castle are killed off. Since our two friends have no intention of waiting to pinpoint the murderer until he---or she---is the only one left standing, Des and Mitch dare to dive into a breathtaking climax that has Des taking a terrible chance, and Mitch taking a worse one.
A severe winter storm and a house full of trapped guests, a murderer among them, test odd couple Mitch Berger and Des Mitry in their fourth agreeable outing (after 2003's The Bright Silver Star). Berger, a white middle-aged syndicated movie critic, and Mitry, a homicide-toughened black cop now providing police service for the village of Dorset, Conn., attend a dinner party at Astrid's Castle, an inn run by Les Josephson and his wife, Norma, for Norma's 94-year-old mother, Ada Geiger. A reclusive pioneer film director, Ada is enjoying a revival of interest in her noir films. Berger's caustic views on modern movie-makers, celebrities and hangers-on add spice to the proceedings. A handful of other guests, including Ada's vitriolic grandson and his wife, complete the group that soon finds itself effectively cut off from the outside world by a fierce storm, which provides an awesome backdrop. The first death appears natural and unsurprising, but the second is obviously murder. Although Mitry takes charge, more deaths follow. Handler makes the most of his small cast of suspects as revelations suggest unsuspected connections, motives and opportunities. This is a cozy series with some meat on the bone.
Typos are ridiculous
I’ve been reading all of David Handler’s books and they all have some typos, but this one is terrible at least one per page.
The story line is good, similar to the other books. I enjoy the twists and turns and the colorful descriptions of his writing.