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Elementary, My Dear Groucho: A Mystery featuring Groucho Marx Hardcover – November 23, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Penzler Pick, December 1999: Other mystery writers, including George Baxt and Stuart Kaminsky, have spoofed the golden era of Hollywood in series mysteries, morphing famous screen figures--Tallulah Bankhead, Humphrey Bogart, etc.--as props for their plots. Like the golden age of the classic detective story, the heyday of back-lot moviemaking, with its larger-than-life, iconic stars, offers rich material for pastiches. To wit: Goulart and Groucho, together again!

Here we have the third adventure for the best-known Marx brother and, like its predecessors (Groucho Marx, Private Eye and Groucho Marx, Master Detective), it's a homicidal hoot. Ron Goulart, a prolific novelist and short-story writer, once before contributed a filmland sleuth to the genre: in the late 1960s and early '70s, he wrote several books featuring John Easy, a Hollywood private eye. Now, however, the detective is wearing oversized spectacles and greasepaint mustache, and the ease with which Goulart re-creates the period, as well as the man, shows he's had practice. The narrator is Frank Denby, writer for Groucho's radio detective show, who makes a more than adequate Watson. As Elementary opens, Denby and his employer/pal have just come upon the corpse of an emigré director on the set of a movie, Conan Doyle's The Valley of Fear. Not only is Felix Denk past his sell-by date, he's been discovered dead in the armchair of 221-B Baker Street, or at least the Mammoth Studios simulation of same. With Groucho on the case things are bound to get funny fairly quickly. Hard-boiled it's not; more like scrambled! So if you're in the mood for Benny Karloff jokes, (he was Boris's cousin), want to catch a glimpse of Captain Spaulding's pith helmet, and think Hollywood historicals are amusing, go for Goulart's Groucho. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

Puns abound as Goulart teams garrulous Groucho with the comedian's writing partner, Frank Denby, for another Hollywood caper (Groucho Marx, Private Eye, etc.). When the two go to the set of a Sherlock Holmes movie, they find German director Felix Denker dead in the detective's armchair on the set of 221b Baker Street. Having already solved a number of murders, Groucho and Frank again decide to play detectives, especially since Miles Ravenshaw, portraying Holmes in the Mammoth Studios production, has issued a publicity challenge declaring he can nab the killer before they do. The duo discover that Denker fled his native country in 1934 with his wife, a former professor of history now working in Mammoth's historical research department. She admits that their marriage wasn't ideal: she and her husband had separated because Felix had had a series of affairs, the last of which ended a few days before his death, when his lover accidentally drove off a cliff. When Groucho and Frank visit Denker's trysting spot, they find Nazi tomes, odd keepsakes for a man who was active in the Anti-Nazi League. Then a friend of Denker's lets on that the director had a secret he was about to make publicAbut what was it? In order to best the sham shamus in solving the case, Groucho and Frank must dodge bullets while testing the theory of mind over matter. Chance meetings with celebrities and Groucho's constant wordplay keep the action light and snappy. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (November 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312208928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312208929
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,675,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eva Shaw on December 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I happened upon this book in the library. What a good read; what a good mystery writer Ron Goulart is. Characters are well developed. Dialogue carries the plot forward. Groucho is true to form...and contrary to what the book infers, I loved "Room Service."
I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers and can't wait to get the others in the series.
And if you're reading this review, Mr. Goulart, hurry and write more. This fan is waiting.
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Format: Hardcover
As far as mystery novels go, there isn't too much to recommend this one: The mystery isn't all that mysterious, the loose ends are much too tight, and the solution is revealed several chapters before the great reveal. Howoever, its not the mystery that makes this book a page turner, its the characters. Any fan of the dry smart-aleck humor that defined Groucho Marx will have no trouble diving into the sharp dialogue and priceless situations that are the true stars of the show. There are also enough real-life 30's personalities sprinkled throughout the narative (an alcoholic Dashell Hammett, and an annoyed Joan Crawford giving Groucho the finger, for example) to delight lovers of that golden era of entertainment. If you are a true Detective Novel buff, then there's nothing here to thrill you. But fans of Captain Spalding and Rufus T. Firefly will have found an instant favorite.
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Format: Hardcover
While investigating a murder on a Sherlock Holmes movie set, Groucho gets to gather all the witnesses and reveal the culprit in classic detective style. Mr. Goulart has crafted a story which succeeds in being both an effective mystery and truly funny. As I've come to expect from this series, the story is surprisingly deep, with Mr. Goulart also giving an interesting glimpse into the politics and attitudes of the times. I'm eagerly awaiting the next volume!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read the previous volumes by Goulart's Groucho Marx series and will continue until the end. I must tell those who read this that this volume seemed a bit "more of the same" as far as the story went, some of the not quite exact same action as previous volumes. The boys will be threatened, the threats get violent in one case in the same way as before. We have been here before and are here again. Still, its not a bad place to be. RG continues to channel some good Groucho bits, you can really hear Julius going on with these routines. And it is comfortable but I had hoped for a bit more. It is a quick read and enjoyable. Worried that future volumes will not stack up well but you have to give me more time to read and review those. This old Marx fan likes to hear new Marx and this is pretty close!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another excellent entry in Ron Goulart's Groucho Marx series. Once again a flair for historical accuracy - combined with just a bit of Hollywood revisionism - makes for a fun detective mystery with one of America's greatest comedians. Well-written as always, this one has the usual steady plot with just enough twists to make you both love the characterization and want to find out whodunit.
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