Tomorrow Is Another Day - Stuart M. Kaminsky - ebook
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To avenge a long-ago death, a killer puts Toby Peters in his sights. On December 10, 1938, Atlanta burned again. In the back lot at David O. Selznick's studio, sets from a dozen old pictures were pushed together and set alight to provide a backdrop for the climax of what Selznick promised to be the movie of the century: Gone with the Wind. Toby Peters, then just a studio security guard, was on hand to help keep the dozens of Confederate extras in line. When the fire was over, he found one of them dead, impaled on his own sword. Five years later, Toby scratches out a living as a private detective for Hollywood's finest, several of whom have just been marked for death. On the back of a cryptic poem is a list of names of men who were on the scene the night the extra died. Two are already dead. One is Clark Gable. The other is Toby himself. About the Author. Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life's work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood's Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life. Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as "the anti-Philip Marlowe." In 1981's Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009. Review quote. "Kaminsky stands out as a subtle historian, unobtrusively but entertainingly weaving into the story itself what people were wearing, eating, driving, and listening to on the radio. A page-turning romp." - Booklist. "For anyone with a taste for old Hollywood B-movie mysteries, Edgar winner Kaminsky offers plenty of nostalgic fun . . . The tone is light, the pace brisk, the tongue firmly in cheek." - Publishers Weekly. "Marvelously entertaining." - Newsday. "Makes the totally wacky possible . . . Peters [is] an unblemished delight." - Washington Post. "The Ed McBain of Mother Russia." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

To avenge a long-ago death, a killer puts Toby Peters in his sights.

On December 10, 1938, Atlanta burned again. In the back lot at David O. Selznick’s studio, sets from a dozen old pictures were pushed together and set alight to provide a backdrop for the climax of what Selznick promised to be the movie of the century: Gone with the Wind.

Toby Peters, then just a studio security guard, was on hand to help keep the dozens of Confederate extras in line. When the fire was over, he found one of them dead, impaled on his own sword. Five years later, Toby scratches out a living as a private detective for Hollywood’s finest, several of whom have just been marked for death. On the back of a cryptic poem is a list of names of men who were on the scene the night the extra died. Two are already dead. One is Clark Gable. The other is Toby himself.

About the Author

Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life’s work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life.

Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as “the anti-Philip Marlowe.” In 1981’s Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Stuart M. Kaminsky

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2011 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1995 by Stuart M. Kaminsky

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-051-9

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

To Hawley Rogers, the faculty andthe students of Oldfields School

Prologue

Saturday, December 10, 1938, 8:05 P.M.

Atlanta was burning on the back lot of Selznick International.

Cameras were grinding while walls and fake storefronts of old sets from King of Kings, King Kong, Garden of Allah, which had been doctored to look like Atlanta, at least from a distance, went up in crackling fire.

“Looks like what Hitler’s doing in Czechoslovakia,” Wally Hospodar, second-in-command, Selznick International security, said to me.

I shrugged and watched the darkness beyond the half acre of burning set.

Wally had hired a dozen backup private detectives, and security guards with studio experience like me had been hired for one night of work and the promise of more on Gone With the Wind.

Atlanta was burning with seven technicolor cameras grinding all over the place till they got it right. The studio had its own fire department, but more than two hundred studio employees had been given a crash fire-fighting course and were standing by while the Culver City fire chief, Ernest Grey, tried to control them and all of his own men and trucks.

It was a security nightmare. A stray fan in a U.S.C. sweater, a guy with a grudge against Selznick or old man Mayer, could get in the middle of the shot and force Selznick to rebuild Atlanta and burn it all over again. As it was, the fire had been started seven times and stopped seven times and started again where the second-unit director, Bill Menzies, wanted some extra coverage.

The air was hot, sticky, and smelled of smoke. Reporters who had heard, from carefully planted phone calls from Selznick’s press people, particularly Russell Birdwell, that the back lot in Culver City was on fire were trying to talk their way past a detail of security guards. A mile away on Washington Street, Louis B. Mayer and his office staff were probably watching the smoking skies and worrying about the investment they had made in what Selznick had promised would be the biggest movie ever made.

Time and money were on the line, not to mention the embarrassment if the long-delayed Movie of the Century had to close down at the start of shooting.

“Wall back there,” Wally said, nodding to the right. “That’s the one on Skull Island, kept Kong out. I hear that’s Hitler’s favorite movie.”

I grunted, the heat warming my face. Wally was a good guy, ready for retirement, fond of the bottle, full of information about the movies, and obsessed with the daily movements of Adolph Hitler who, Wally insisted, his sagging jowly face nodding, would soon attack all of Europe and pull us into a war.

We were about a dozen yards behind David O. Selznick, who was wearing a helmet and had already gone hoarse from shouting directions through a megaphone from a spindly tower that had been built so he could see every camera and actor, and most of the forty acres of lot stretching into the early-morning darkness. Behind us, George Cukor, director of the movie, was sitting on a chair, whispering to a thin young guy I didn’t recognize. Cukor was staying out of the way while the burning of Atlanta was directed by William Cameron Menzies. It was an action shoot, a second-unit job made harder by Selznick’s taking over.

“The wagon,” Selznick shouted, pacing and smoking a cigarette at the foot of his tower. “Where’s the wagon?”

The wagon was off to the right, in darkness. Wally and I had been there when Dorothy Fargo and Yakima Canutt, dressed like Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, had gone over the action with Menzies and his assistant. Yak had been around forever, a lean, board-hard man with a dark Indian face, as much the king of stunt men as Clark Gable was king of Hollywood.

“Mame Stoltz in publicity, you know Mame?” Wally asked, while I tried to do my job. “Mame says Paulette Goddard’s out as Scarlett. Too Jewish, something. Who knows? Start a picture you don’t have a star. Bad luck. Not that I’m fool enough to tell anybody that. Been here since Ince owned the studio, made it through Goldwyn, Pathé, and R.K.O. And I’m hanging on with Selznick. You know why I’m hanging on?”

“You’re not fool enough to give advice,” I said.

“Precisely,” said Wally, pulling out a pouch of Dill’s Best and filling his pipe. “Exactly, precisely.”

I grunted in understanding. Wally had gotten me on this job and assigned me to work with him on the detail guarding Selznick and the crew. Easy work. And I needed the money. I also wanted to meet Clark Gable. I’d only seen him once before from a distance when I tried to keep fans from Mickey Rooney at an M-G-M premiere at Grauman’s Chinese.

I’ve been around Hollywood for all of my almost fifty years. Stars didn’t impress me, except for Jimmy Stewart, Buck Jones, and Gable. I’d heard a lot about Gable, some good, some bad, and I wanted to know how much of it was true. But more important, I was getting paid.

The flames and smoke of the burning set were climbing high into the sky over Los Angeles, and Selznick was in near panic. He took off his helmet, brushed back his gray tight curls, and looked at Menzies.

“Bill,” he pleaded.

“Action,” Menzies said softly to his assistant, who relayed the order on his phone.

A guy in uniform, Confederate gray, wearing a beard and covered with make-believe dust moved next to us. The lot was full of these war-weary extras. Around like popcorn for when the assistant director needed a soldier or eighty soldiers with three minutes’ notice from Selznick or one of the directors.

“Hell of a night,” the man said.

I didn’t look at him. I was watching Yak and Dotty Fargo race onto the burning set on their bucking cart.

“Next few days,” the man at my side said, “I lie out there and pretend I’m dying. Doesn’t look like I’ll even get a line, but who knows. You need pull, clout, a break, and who do I know, I ask you?”

“That’s the way of it,” said Wally.

“Should have been me,” the man next to me said. “You know I tested for Rhett Butler? I’ve got the look, the accent, but not the credits. I heard them talking. Gable backs out and they maybe go with me. Why not? Big publicity push. Star is born. Character actor Lionel Varney gets the break he deserves.”

“Don’t miss any of this, any of this,” Selznick was saying more to himself than to Menzies or to Ray Rennahan, who was coordinating the cameras.

The cart with Yak and Dotty was almost across the set now. No turning back. No reshooting.

“No problems. No problems,” Selznick muttered.

“It can break a man’s heart, his spirit. You know?” Varney said at my side.

“Tough business,” I said.

“Wasn’t for Gable I’d be trying on white hats with big brims, smoking thin cigars, paying my bills with cash, kissing Paulette Goddard in front of the cameras,” said Varney. “I’m a better actor.”

“I heard Goddard’s out,” I said, wondering if the gaffer off camera far to the left was moving forward onto the set. I nudged Wally, who looked where I was pointing.

“I know him,” said Wally. “No problem there.”

“Gable’s fault,” Varney said. “He doesn’t need this movie. He’s the king. I need it. And instead of wearing fancy clothes, I’ll be dying in dirty gray down there tomorrow. Is that fair or is that fair?”

It was typical Hollywood feel-sorry-for-myself, I’m-a-better-actor-than-Paul-Muni banter, but Varney was spilling it to a stranger, a stranger who had been hired to keep people with grudges and a passion for publicity from damaging the biggest movie ever made.

The cart cleared the set and rumbled into the darkness.

“It’s fine,” called Menzies, and the word was relayed. “Keep rolling till we have no more flames.”

People cheered and Selznick turned, his face red from the heat of the still-burning set.

I turned to look at Varney but he was a few dozen yards away now, his back to me, walking away with sagging shoulders. I took a step toward him. A man and woman brushed past Varney, almost bumping into him. The man and woman were headed straight for Selznick. I nudged Wally, who turned.

“Selznick’s brother, Myron, the agent,” he said. “Looks like he’s had a few under his belt tonight.”

“He supposed to be on the set?” I asked.

“You wanna tell him to go away? Step in and make a mistake and you’ll be looking for short-order work in Topeka,” Wally said.

I moved closer to Selznick just in case. Varney had now disappeared.

David O. Selznick didn’t see his brother and the girl for an instant. He had turned back to light a cigarette and watch the flames consume what was left of the Atlanta set.

“David,” Myron said.

“Went without a hitch, Myron. Without a hitch,” Selznick said with a sigh, turning to face his brother. “Did you see?”

“David,” Myron said, looking in the flickering light like a Freddy March about to turn into Mr. Hyde. “I’d like you to meet Scarlett O’Hara.”

Selznick turned now and looked down at the young woman. He took her hand and grinned at his brother, probably more happy with having the scene successfully in the can than with the prospect of Myron having discovered a last-minute Scarlett after two years of searching and screen tests of every actress in Hollywood, with the possible exception of Mae West.

“Vivien Leigh,” said Myron, and Vivien Leigh, her small, pale hand in David Selznick’s large one, smiled.

“Hear that?” Wally said at my side.

There was noise all around. Fire trucks. Cranes, trucks, the voices of people congratulating each other.

“What?” I asked.

“Come on,” he said, touching my shoulder.

I followed Wally away from the meeting between the Selznicks and Leigh. He ran down a gully on his spindly legs and hurried into a stand of bushes. I went after him into the darkness. Now I could hear something ahead of us.

Wally plowed ahead until we cleared the trees, went up a little hill, and found ourselves panting and looking at a group of Confederate soldiers who were about thirty yards ahead of us around an open fire.

“He’s dead,” one of the soldiers shouted. “I’ve seen dead. He’s dead.”

Wally pushed ahead and we made our way through the group that included the guy named Varney who had talked to us a few minutes earlier.

When we broke through we saw the dead man, in a gray uniform. He was lying at the bottom of what looked like a drainage ditch. A sword was plunged into his stomach. The sword swayed as if someone had set it in motion.

“Anybody see what happened?” Wally said.

“Just fell on it, I guess,” an extra in a gray private’s uniform said.

“I saw him fall on it,” said Varney, as Wally and I scurried down the side of the ditch toward the dead man.

Wally got down first and kneeled next to the corpse, careful not to touch anything.

“Dead for sure,” he said. “First, probably not the last, on a picture this big.”

I stood next to him, my trouser cuffs getting wet with mud. I’d see them dead before. Wally got up.

“Picture like this,” he went on, reaching for his pipe and tobacco, “no surprise. Bound to be some accidents. Think we had four or five killed on Ben-Hur back in the old days. My guess is they’ll want to keep this quiet a while. Low key.”

I’d seen cover-ups at Warners when I worked security there, had even helped with one or two that would have been the end of rising and falling stars, writers, and directors.

Wally and I looked up to the top of the ditch. The Confederate extras had scurried into the night and the smell of burning sets, but someone was standing in the shadows at the top of the hill. Our eyes met for a second and then Clark Gable, or a hell of a ringer, turned and walked away.

Wally spent the next few hours writing the report and talking to the Culver City Police. The dead man hadn’t been carrying identification. His wallet and things were probably in his car, parked in the lot with hundreds of others. The police would find it, check it out, and mark it down as a freak accident. Case closed. Atlanta burned. On to Tara, being built about half a mile away.

I was called early the next afternoon. I was half asleep.

“Toby,” said Wally. “Going to have to let you go. I’ll see to it you get paid for the week.”

“The dead soldier?” I guessed.

“You got it. Powers that be think it best if you and the extras who were around that fire not be here where you might make mention of the incident to a reporter or some gaffer with a big mouth.”

“I wouldn’t do that, Wally,” I said.

“I know you wouldn’t, but this way, I don’t have to put myself on the line and say so. What do we gain? Nothing. What can I lose? My job. Let’s keep it this way. Simple. I’ll be looking for more work for you down the line.”

“Did you talk to Gable?” I asked.

“Gable?”

“He was there,” I said. “Top of the hill when we found the body.”

“Not a chance, Toby,” he said. “Gable didn’t have a call last night and he’s not the kind that stands around watching people make movies when he doesn’t have to.”

“My mistake,” I said.

“I’ll call you as soon as I’ve got something for you.”

It would be five years before I talked to Wally again.

Chapter 1

Aside from the fact that a giant Samoan named Andy was not standing on the chest of a little man named Charles Westfarland, and the tables and chairs weren’t torn and shattered in front of the bandstand, the Mozambique Lounge in Glendale looked pretty much the way it had when I had last been in it almost ten years earlier.

It was early in the evening, Sunday, February 28, 1943, and I had come to see a client who had asked me to meet him at the Mozambique. I said I could, and he had started to give me directions; I cut him off and told him I knew the place, knew it well.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!