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Jill McLeod is playing her real-life role as a Zephyrette in front of movie cameras after a director proclaims she's "perfect for the part" in his film noir. Now she finds herself before the cameras in a Niles, California, warehouse that's been turned into a movie set. Her temp job as an actress would be a lark if it weren't for the dark emotions and conflicts swirling around the cast and crew. Some have secrets they'd rather not share, and antipathy toward a visiting studio executive who enjoys wielding his power. Someone winds up dead, and once again Jill is investigating a murder. Can she discover the murderer in a new and unfamiliar milieu before the real-life villain catches up with her? "Above the line" is a movie-business term referring to those responsible for creative contributions to a film--director, producer, scriptwriter, and leading actors. On a movie budget, those costs were listed above a line, with all others below it. Jill and the reader learn the meanings of this and many more pieces of show-biz jargon. The familiar phrase casting couch is one still familiar today, and it rears its ugly head here in 1953, long before #MeToo. More plot elements of the 1950s include the blacklist, homophobia, hobos riding the rails, and the Monuments Men recovering art stolen by the Nazis.
Janet Dawson is the author of the four-book California Zephyr series and the thirteen-book Jeri Howard PI series. She has also written a suspense novel, a novella, and numerous award-nominated and -winning short stories. Past president of the Northern California Mystery Writers, she lives in the East Bay region.