In a Teapot by Terence Faherty
In a Teapot by Terence Faherty
A Scott Elliott Mystery
A film version of The Tempest, William Shakespeare's final play, featuring the cream of Hollywood's aristocratic British Colony? When the project is announced in 1948, it sounds like an idea that can't miss. But then the whispers start about one of those British actors and a burlesque queen, and murder soon follows. Enter Scott Elliott, top operative of Hollywood Security and the soon-to-be husband of the lovely Ella Englehart. To get to the altar, Elliott must dodge blonde bombshells and gangsters, and solve a mystery that echoes Shakespeare's crowning work.
This edition is illustrated by Robin Agnew.
Hardcover | ISBN: 978-1-932325-04-1 | 2005 | $18.00
Nominated for a 2006 Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America
Nominated for the 2006 Dilys Award by the Indpendent Mystery Booksellers Association
Winner of a 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award, presented by The Independent Book Publishers Association.
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Praise for Terence Faherty and In a Teapot
"The breezy, humorous crime novel is a sub-genre that flourished in the 1930s and ’40s, either influenced by or influencing the motion picture screwball comedies of the day. Authors like Craig Rice, Stuart Palmer and Harry Kurnitz, who also scribbled for the screen, fashioned entertaining whodunits where the talk was fast and smart, the males were unflappable, the females sexy and witty and the booze flowed like water. For a quick reminder of the lovely silliness and sheer entertainment of those freer and easier days, one need look no further than Terence Faherty's short novel In A Teapot.
"This new well-plotted mystery set in 1948 Hollywood finds the author's series hero Scott Elliott only a short time past a career shift from underemployed actor to in-demand private detective. On the eve of Elliott's marriage to script reader Ella Englehart, his boss at Hollywood Security tosses him a new assignment involving a young British actor, Forest Combs, who has just been cast in a film to be based on Shakespeare's final play, “The Tempest.”
"The snootiest members of the West Coast's British Colony stiff-upper-lipsters like Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone and Cedric Hardwick have all signed on and the producer is afraid that rumors of Combs' dalliance with a fan dancer might send them scurrying from the project. Elliott is to nip the romance in the bud by buying off the stripper one heck of an assignment for a guy on his way to the altar, especially when his fiancée insists on assisting him.
"Faherty tosses in all the proper ingredients an extremely likeable sleuthing couple, a bloody corpse and a gallery of suspects, a little light-hearted, considerably less than R-rated sex, mobsters, funny patter and even a bit of unobtrusive historical info. “Stage shows featuring more or less undressed women were an institution in Hollywood. Earl Carroll's Vanities and the big productions at the Florentine Gardens, to name just two, dated from the thirties. But it had taken the wartime flood of GIs to establish a true burlesque tradition in staid Los Angeles.”
"It's all frothy good fun, and as Scott and Ella do their Nick and Nora thing, working their way though a labyrinth of lies and deceptions and hidden motives to find a killer before taking their vows, it's soon made clear that the author has been playing a literary game all the while, one that readers, even those unfamiliar with Shakespeare's play, will have to admit is monstrously clever."
-- Dick Lochte for OC Metro
"I love the resurgence of noir, though this is a soft-boiled version set in the Hollywood of 1948 when the film industry was changing and the British colony could feel the shift (worldwide as Empire dissolved). WWII veteran Scott Elliott, top op of Hollywood Security, draws an odd assignment, protecting a pending project by quelling rumors about one of the British stars and a burlesque queen. Scott is right to think there's something decidedly off.
The movie lore is terrific, the ticking-clock here is the wedding of Scott to the lovely Ella Englehart, a game girl with a real mouth on her, and best of all, this novella is admirably brief... In an age of bloat, lean is both mean and marvelous."
-- A Killer Books selection of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association,
recommended by Barbara Peters
"It’s been argued that the detective story is at its best in novella form. Certainly this oft-honored if largely commercially unsuccessful author delivers a clever, witty story of misdeeds and murder in 1948 Hollywood in just 23,000 well-chosen words. Security agent Scott Elliot turns detective once again when murder threatens to stop the filming of a movie based on The Tempest.
"It’s a charming story of a time when the sun was setting not only on the British Empire but on Hollywood’s British colony, whose members fear that their cultivated accents and aristocratic manners won’t be enough to save their careers in this brave new world of movie-making."
-- Tom & Enid Schantz for The Denver Post
"With pitch-perfect writing, fabulous period details and crisp wisecracking dialogue, In a Teapot is an entertaining read that clips along as fast and smooth as a Bentley on Hollywood Boulevard at midnight.
"Get out your holiday gift lists, ladies and gentlemen. Two-time Shamus winner Terence Faherty has given us another carefully-crafted jewel of a story in In a Teapot. This unusual book, a perfect length for an evening's entertainment and illustrated by Robin Agnew, is enough to make even the most jaded mystery lover on your list smile. Check it out."
— Carroll Johnson for Reviewing the Evidence
"Hollywood Security operative Scott Elliott, two days away from his wedding, accepts what seems like a simple assignment – discourage a romance between an actor and a burlesque star that may be detrimental to the filming of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In post-war Hollywood, The Tempest seems likely to be the last great swan song of a group of British Colonists, if their leading man can be separated from his 'farmer’s daughter.' As the cast of characters grows, so does the complexity of the case, echoing the Bard’s final work. Pitch perfect dialogue and descriptions of the era, nicely accented by pen and ink line drawings, make this a neat little treasure for fans of historical mysteries and Shakespeare alike."
— Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy
"Jim Huang, the mystery lover who edits the interesting magazine The Drood Review of Mystery, also publishes unusual books. His latest is a short, tasty lemon meringue by Terence Faherty, a writer whose unique gifts are decidedly undersung despite several major awards. Faherty, best known for his series about Owen Keane, a failed seminarian turned mystic detective, obviously loves movies: His Kill Me Again takes full advantage of the possibilities built into the making of a sequel to Casablanca. And In a Teapot has much of the same ingredients: wit, humor, characters just a little larger than life.
"In 1948, as Faherty makes us believe, a major Hollywood movie studio plans a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, starring the best of the famed British Colony of transplanted actors. But the project is derailed when nasty rumors lead to murder, and it's up to a tougher kind of detective, studio security boss Scott Elliott, to solve a mystery that has a lot to do with Shakespeare's play."
-- Dick Adler in The Chicago Tribune (9/4/2005)
"In a Teapot is a fine afternoon's read, a giddy romp of a story that goes down easy, like an old Bogart B-flick. And that's surely right in keeping with the spirit of things, for Elliott's beat is 1940s Hollywood. He's a former bit-player (a nice substitute for "failed actor"), now working as the ace op for Paddy Maguire's Hollywood Security Agency, where his cases usually involve trying to keep the nasty little secrets of movie-star clients out of the scandal rags. And that's the way it goes here.
"Elliott, with 'one foot on the altar,' should be thinking of nothing but his upcoming nuptials to the lovely Ella Englehart, a saucy 'summertime blonde' who works as a Warner publicist. But Paddy has other plans for his future. It seems a film version of The Tempest, William Shakespeare's final play, is all set to go, and will feature many of the shining stars among Hollywood's famed (but aging) colony of British ex-pats, including Ronald Coleman, Joan Fontaine and Basil Rathbone. The film looks like a winner ("Shakespeare is hot right now," is how the would-be producer puts it). Yet rumors about a torrid romance between Forrest Combs, one of the film's stars, and Betty Ann Baker, a well-endowed but less-than-reputable burlesque dancer, are giving the rather skittish Brits the vapors, and threaten to sink the production before it can even get off the ground. So Paddy dispatches Elliott to buy off Baker and put a kibosh on the romance.
"It should be a simple matter of a little dough changing hands, but of course things go terribly wrong terribly fast, and soon Scott and Ella find themselves awash in a sea of troubles that include assorted gangsters, producers, dancers, actors and inconvenient corpses, and making it to the church on time may be the least of these young lovers' worries. Along the way, there's plenty of typical P.I. fare: crosses, double-crosses and triple-crosses, and lots of often not-so-savory types with lots of often not-so-savory motives cracking wise and stabbing each other blithely in the back.
"There's nothing earth-shattering in this Teapot, just a pleasant little diversion that's entertaining as hell, full of spot-on period detail and dialogue."
-- Kevin Burton Smith for January Magazine
"This is a novella from award winning author Terence Faherty featuring his series character Scott Elliot. Elliot is an operative for Hollywood Security in the 1940s. Shakespeare’s The Tempest is poised to made into a film featuring some of the best British actors in Hollywood. When one of the actors is discovered to be dating a Burlesque queen, Hollywood Security is asked to look into it. Scott Elliot, only days away from his wedding, is hoping to wrap it up in time to make it to the altar. But before the investigation really gets a head of steam, a body shows up. Bring on some involvement from the local mafia types, and some hard to deal with actors and Scott may end up late to his own wedding…
"Faherty writes this era like he was there. Slipping into this book was like sliding into my favorite recliner and just as comfortable. The story is engaging form the first paragraph, and Faherty’s writing is smooth as 16 year old scotch. A wonderful mystery from a true master of the PI genre."
-- Jon Jordan for Crime Spree