When Missy Met Shirley
Marguerite "Missy" LeHand, private secretary to President Franklin Roosevelt, is visiting Los Angeles in the fall of 1935, enjoying a rare vacation while her boss takes a fishing cruise. During a meeting with child actress Shirley Temple, Missy invites Shirley--then the top box office star in the country--and her mother, Gertrude, to join her for a weekend in San Francisco. Unbeknownst to the women, Shirley's innocent remark about the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia has made her the target of a kidnapping, which takes place as they travel north on the Coast Daylight, "the most beautiful train in the world." Recovering Shirley involves the FBI--whose bulldog director, J. Edgar Hoover, takes a personal interest in the case--as well as Darryl Zanuck, the bombastic head of Shirley's studio. Missy joins forces with Corey Wainwright, the attractive and capable FBI Agent-in-Charge in San Francisco, to both find Shirley and keep the story from leaking to the press. That is made doubly hard thanks to the presence of Joan Roswell, a failed actress-turned-reporter who is desperate to prove her worth to her newspaper editor.
First in a Series
Colorful underworld characters, including the Irish crime boss of San Francisco and the madam of its most notorious brothel, fill out the cast of characters. The story climaxes with a daring exchange of money-for-Shirley and a thwarted boat escape in San Francisco harbor. This is the first in a series of novels featuring LeHand and Wainwright (alas, a fictitious character!), who develop a romantic flirtation over the course of the investigation.