Groucho Marx, Secret Agent

by Ron Goulart

Scriptwriter Frank Denby, whose cartoonist wife, Jane, is pregnant, joins with his best pal, Groucho, to solve another Hollywood murder. Frank, Jane, and Groucho are attending a studio Halloween party when someone dressed as the Grim Reaper approaches director Eric Olmstead, who passes out after the figure whispers in his ear. The next day, Olmstead is found dead. Olmstead's wife, famous actress Dinah Flanders, doesn't believe the director shot himself and hires Groucho and Frank to find out what happened.

It could be said that in this episode Groucho Marx operates as a Hollywood-style Scarlet Pimpernel, with a repertoire of outrageous puns covering the steely, daring life of a counterspy. But, as Groucho might retort, his cover is at the dry-cleaner, and, besides, Groucho is not one to hide his light under any bushel (even one of stuffed clams). So he and Frank Denby, his sidekick, scriptwriter and close friend, set out to uphold their reputation as amateur sleuths by looking into the death of British director Eric Olmstead. First Olmstead fainted at a star-studded Halloween party after a man dressed as the Grim Reaper had whispered to him and then disappeared. But it is not until the next day that he is found dead--presumably by his own hand.

It is 1939; everyone expects the U.S. to join the war raging in Europe. And everyone is looking under the bed for spies. Soon the questions surrounding the death of Eric Olmstead takes on an odor of espionage.

The police call Olmstead's death a suicide. After all, he did leave a (typed) note. His widow refuses to believe that her husband shot himself, and persuades Groucho and Frank to look further. Soon the pair is enmeshed in FBI agents and Los Angeles police, while the grieving widow clamors for revenge. Here is where Groucho proves his genius as a detective--he seizes on the clue that reveals the death to be murder.

This, however, is only the beginning. There is another murder. Groucho and Frank are attacked; Frank is shot at (but not hit); Groucho is hit (but not shot at; just knocked to the floor by the fleeing assailant). They not only survive, but they pinpoint the Nazi spy and the Hollywood figures working with them.

First Published:2002

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Groucho Marx, Secret Agent
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312280055      ISBN 10: 031228005X
Publisher: St. Martin's Press  2002

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Groucho Marx, Secret Agent
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780786247417      ISBN 10: 078624741X
Publisher: Thorndike Press  2003

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