By Evan Field (a pseudonymous collaboration)

The meanest and most powerful gossip columnist in the country is found strangled in a screening room at the New York Film Festival. Whodunnit?

The entire film community hated Nigel Whitty, and any one of the eleven people in the room with him at the time – among them Danny Blue, the screen heartthrob-turned-hotshot-director with the outsized sexual appetite and a first film about to bomb; Becky Luna, the washed- up, drugged-out, tap-dancing musical star; and Enzo Carbonare, the absurdly egotistical Italian movie auteur with the creeping toupee – could easily have done him in, and with great pleasure. All have a lot to gain by Nigel’s death. The question is, who hated him the most?

Setting out to solve this bizarre mystery is Nigel’s own deliciously scatterbrained gal Friday, Sara Nightingale, and young and handsome Lieutenant Michael Connelly. She’s Grosse Point, Michigan, and he’s Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; together, they’re a terrific team. Michael and Sara search all over New York for Nigel’s murderer, winding up in a suspenseful chase through the greatest movie palace of them all, Radio City Music Hall. When Nigel’s murderer is revealed at last, the ending both surprises and delights. (With jacket art by Edward Gorey.)




     Nigel Whitty loved watching them squirm. As he sat by the edge of the fountain in the plaza of Lincoln Center, sipping from a container of coffee and reading over his column in the morning Tribune, it struck him how much he really relished his work. How he loved raking over those cretinous celebrities—media whores who scratched after fame like ravenous dogs a buried bone. There’s no people like show people, all right, he thought, no people so worthy of punishment and humiliation. When you made a public spectacle of yourself, you deserved public scorn.

What an irony it was that ten years ago when Nigel had first been offered the chance to be a Grand Inquisitor, a national inquirer, he had been reluctant. Nigel Whitty, a gossip columnist! After all, he had been, and still was, a film critic noted for his intellect and rigorous standards. But all the standards in the world didn’t pay the rent. They certainly didn’t pay for the vintage French wines, the custom-made Italian shirts, or the English cashmeres which were, to Nigel, no mere luxuries, but appurtenances befitting his stature in life. Nigel had early on decided he was to the manner born, and he was determined to live up to his own great expectations, whatever the cost.