Monday, April 15, 2013

Busted Blockbuster: Hollywood, Dead Ahead by Kate Klise

Dear Iggy and Olive,

I couldn't resist opening the letter from California. We HAVE to do this! Please????

Can you imagine the biggest producer in Hollywood making a movie about us? It would be the coolest thing ever.   Olive, I know you probably don't like movies. I bet they didn't even exist when you were alive. But trust me, they're GREAT! I made a ballot for this business decision. Please cast your vote!

Love, Seymour

P.S.: What's a femme fatale?

The household at 43 Cemetery Drive is in a media frenzy. With their next mystery going into publication, Iggy and his genuine ghost writer Olive C. Spence (deceased since 1911) and their adopted son and illustrator Seymour Hope suddenly receive a surprising epistle from movie maker Mo Block Busters, offering to turn their latest into a script for his next movie. Iggy (Ignatius B. Grumply) is dead set against putting their novel on celluloid, Olive, invisible but opinionated, longs to play the femme fatale lead, pointing out the obvious: who is more of a femme fatale than a woman who's been dead for over 100 years? Besides, she's got a trunk full of elegant vintage velvet gowns just right for the part, and they're not invisible!

Before the reluctant Grumply knows it, their sudden fame is front-page fare in The Ghastly Times, with a write-up by the editor himself, Cliff Hanger. Local librarian, M. Balm, is dubious about the conclusion of this book-to-movie deal, but self-confident handyman Hugh Briss is proud to be named caretaker of Spence Mansion while the family are in Tinseltown. Before they know it, Iggy and Seymour are winging their way to Hollywood to sign the contract. Olive has a little trouble booking a ticket for a ghost and follows, unwillingly forced to haunt the aisles of her red-eye flight.

Moe Block Busters rushes them through the contract signing before Olive arrives to scrutinize the details, and Iggy and Seymour are hurried off by Moe's administrative assistant Myra Manes for makeovers by personal stylist Luke Ahtmee and cosmetic dentist Miles Smyle. To Seymour's dismay, he discovers that director Phillip D. Rubbish has decided he's not right for the part of himself. Undeterred, however, Seymour disguises himself as a boy actor named Willie Shadow and shows up for the casting call, and winning the audition, finds himself in two roles, as Seymour playing Willie and Willie playing Seymour.

Meanwhile, Rubbish is not done with the casting changes. Olive C. Spence finds herself replaced as the femme star by 92-year-old actress, Ivana Oscar, who is thrilled to get the part until she discovers that her contract has a heart-stopping clause:

The undersigned hereby agrees to die of natural causes or otherwise while making the film to guarantee box-office success and cult status for the movie.

At first filled with a deadly envy of Ivana's role as herself, Olive changes her mind when she discovers a clause buried in their contract which signs over all the rights and royalties to their books to Moe Block Busters. Suddenly, Ivana and Olive find themselves dead serious, acting as one to bring the deadly plans of Moe Block Busters and Myra Manes to their final end.

If long-running classic television sitcoms can send their characters to Hollywood for a change of script, why not the comic residents of the happily haunted mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road? The forthcoming fifth book in Kate and M. Sarah Klise's lively series, Hollywood, Dead Ahead (43 Old Cemetery Road) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) is another spoofy whistle-in-the-graveyard walk down Old Cemetary Road. As always, Klise christens her characters with drop-dead funny pun-filled names that suit their personas to a T, and Sarah Klise's drawings add to the giggle-evoking gallows humor. Told epistolary style (although she has a lot to say, the voiceless Olive has to communicate only in writing), Klise manages this unusual narrative style with deadpan elan. As Kirkus Reviews concludes, "Another winner for this inventive series."

Fortunately, this novel is no dead end, with book six, Greetings from the Graveyard, in which Olive C. Spence, mystery writer extraordinaire, sends for her own Watson, former butler, T. Leaves, to help her sleuth out the cause of the sudden crime wave in the town of Ghastly, Illinois, forthcoming soon. Earlier books in the series are Till Death Do Us Bark (43 Old Cemetery Road), The Phantom of the Post Office (43 Old Cemetery Road), Over My Dead Body (43 Old Cemetery Road), and Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road).

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  • Thanks for the lovely review! -Kate Klise

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:12 PM  

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