Lone Star

ISBN - 978-1-59058-587-0 

In 1955 Edna Ferber is basking in the success of her blockbuster novel Giant. Director George Stevens and Warner Brothers Studio are in the final days of filming her Texas oil epic, and Edna looks forward to meeting Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor, and especially young James Dean.

 

But there is trouble brewing. James Dean, the new box-office sensation and teen heartthrob, has been accused of fathering a child with an unstable extra named Carisa Krausse. The studio fears the negative publicity will jeopardize the release of the movie.

 

Then the actress is murdered, and James Dean is the prime suspect. With character-actress Mercedes McCambridge as her sympathetic sidekick, a shaken Edna investigates the killing, determined to clear Deana’s name. Edna soon entrenches herself in the life of the often secretive maverick actor. But can she prove his innocence? The more she investigates the more she uncovers simmering rivalries, petty jealousies, and cruel infidelities on the dark underside of glittering Hollywood. A dynamite debut launches a series for Ferber as shrewd sleuth.

 

 

"A promising debut in what could be a long-running and highly entertaining series....”

--Booklist review

 

Escape Artist

ISBN - 978-1-59058-847-5

1904 Edna Ferber is a nineteen-year-old girl reporter for the Appleton, Wisconsin “Crescent,” an occupation that many townspeople, including her own family, consider scandalous for a proper young girl. By chance, she interviews Harry Houdini, in town visiting old friends. Houdini, as Ehrich Weiss, spent his boyhood years in the small town. When Frana Lempke, a beautiful young German high-school girl, disappears and is soon discovered murdered, Edna asks Houdini for help in solving the murder. The unusual crime baffles the local police because Frana mysteriously disappeared from a locked room at the high school.

 

Houdini, the celebrated escape artist, takes a liking to Edna and agrees to help. But as Edna pursues the story, alienating any number of people, she senses that she is being followed. It’s a troubling summer for her. Her homelike is in disorder, though she is dedicated to a blind father. Her mother and sister dislike her walking the streets as a reporter. Worse, the newsroom has become a hostile environment, with a new city editor determined to undermine her. Piecing together the clues, she comes to see that her own life in the small town is unraveling.

 

As the future best-selling writer starts to solve the crime, she understands that her involvement will impact her life forever. In 1904 future best-selling writer Edna Ferber, then a nineteen-year-old fledgling reporter in Appleton, Wisconsin, teams up with famed escape artist Harry Houdini to solve the baffling murder of a beautiful young girl who has mysteriously disappeared from a locked room at the local high school.

 

 

Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly. "Set in Hollywood in 1955, Ifkovic's debut, Lone Star (2009), depicted Edna Ferber as a matronly but shrewd established author. This excellent prequel, set in 1904, shows her at the start of her career, a recent high school graduate working as a reporter for her hometown newspaper in Appleton, Wis."

 

 

 

Make Believe

ISBN - 978-1-4642-0080-9

In June 1951 Edna Ferber heads to Hollywood to support an old friend who has found himself blacklisted, The McCarthy hearings in Washington have rattled Hollywood with allegations of Communist-leaning sympathies. She has no intention of becoming involved with the soon-to-be-released M-G-M film Show Boat. She first met Max Jeffries when he worked on the 1927 Broadway production of Show Boat, and, most recently he brought his magic to the new production starring Ava Gardner. In fact, he was the one who pushed Gardner for the role of Julie, the doomed mulatto. Walked off the Metro lot, shunned by friends, Max is “uncredited” on the film because of his political leanings. Edna’s visit is one of friendship—nothing more. But all that changes when Max is murdered. Edna has questions.


Edna begins socializing with Ava Gardner, a woman currently scandalizing Hollywood (and annoying Hedda Hopper) because of her affair with Frank Sinatra, who’s left his wife for the sultry goddess. Edna finds the hard-as-nails temptress a vulnerable, insecure woman whom she comes to like. When the gentle Max is killed right after a public brawl with Frank Sinatra. Ava fears her lover will be arrested. Edna plays sleuth quietly, becoming involved with the characters who hang around the edges of Hollywood fame and fortune, uncovering dark layers of greed, envy, and desire. Against the backdrop of the new Show Boat is the tawdry romance of dream-street Hollywood itself—both parts of the world of ”Make Believe”—to use the song title from the musical.

 

 

"A vivid, atmospheric mystery about 1951 Hollywood. I loved Edna Ferber as a detective investigating a murder behind a film of her classic Show Boat. Add fascinating portraits of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra, and this is a winner."--David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author, review of Make Believe

 

Downtown Strut

ISBN - 978-1-4642-0155-4

Manhattan, 1927: Edna Ferber prepares for “the Ferber season on Broadway.” On December 27, the musical adaptation of Show Boat by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern opens. On December 28, The Royal Family, her comedy of manners written with George Kaufman, hits the stage despite Ethel Barrymore’s disapproval of the play’s depiction of “theatrical royalty.” But despite the excitement, Edna misses both opening nights. She has something else on her mind—murder. Recently, Edna has been absorbed by the heady milieu of the Roaring Twenties’ Harlem Renaissance—the jazz clubs, the faddish dances, the frenzy—and the lively pulse of Broadway that entices talented young “Negroes” to push for mainstream recognition of black voices and talents.

 

Edna has also been mentoring some of these young writers and actors, including her housekeeeper’s son, Waters Turpin. And then there’s the boyishly handsome Roddy Parsons, a charismatic man most recently in the “Negro chorus” of Show Boat. But when Edna heads to Harlem to take Parsons to lunch, she discovers he’s been stabbed to death in his bed.

 

Who murdered Roddy? There are the writers who meet at Edna’s apartment, among them Bella Davenport, a beautiful vamp; Ellie Payne, a jazz singer; Freddy Holder, a rabble-rouser; and Lawson Hicks, Bella’s handsome boyfriend. There is also Jed Harris, the young producer of The Royal Family, a darling of the Broadway set, but a notoriously cruel man. Aided by Waters Turpin and his mother, as well as by poet Langston Hughes, Edna eschews theatrics to track down a dangerous and real killer.

 

 

"Ifkovic is assembling a sort of literary collage, building a picture of Ferber (this fictionalized Ferber, anyway) one piece at a time. Fans of mysteries featuring literary figures as crime-solvers will thoroughly enjoy this series."--Booklist

 

 

 

Final Curtain

ISBN - 978-1-4642-0290-2

Who murdered the handsome young actor? And why?

 

In 1940, against the chilling backdrop of Hitler’s rise and the specter of another war, Edna Ferber decides to follow an old dream: to act on the stage. Selecting The Royal Family, the comedy she wrote with George S. Kaufman, for her starring role, she travels to Maplewood, New Jersey. But her escape from the troubling daily headlines is short lived. Before opening night, a mysterious understudy is shot to death, opening up a world of lies, greed, and hypocrisy.

 

Ferber, along with Kaufman, who is directing the production, begin a different kind of collaboration: the discovery of the murderer. As rehearsals evolve, they deal with a cast of characters who are all hiding something from their days spent in Hollywood: a stage manager, a young ingénue, an American Nazi and his boisterous girlfriend, a stagehand named Dakota who is the son of a famous evangelist, his charismatic preacher-mother, her money-bags husband, and a driven acolyte of the church. Each character, Edna discovers, has some connection with the dead man. Why have they all converged on quiet Maplewood? As Edna investigates, she realizes that the answer to the murder lies back in Hollywood.

 

As Kaufman wisecracks his way through the story, Edna methodically examines the facts, determined to find the answer. Opening night looms and so does World War II. Edna, resolute, believes that justice needs to prevail in a world that is falling apart.

 

 

"This is the fifth Ferber mystery, and she continues to be one of the more interesting of the historical figures who have found new life as fictional sleuths." --Booklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Café Europa

ISBN - 978-1-4642-0048-9

In 1914, as rumors of war float across Europe, Edna Ferber travels to Budapest with Winifred Moss, a famous London suffragette, to visit the homeland of her dead father and to see the sights. Author Edna is fascinated by ancient Emperor Franz Joseph and by the faltering Austro-Hungarian Empire, its pomp and circumstance so removed from the daily life of the people she meets. Sitting daily in the Café Europa at her hotel, she listens to unfettered Hearst reporter Harold Gibbon as he predicts the coming war and the end of feudalistic life in Europe while patrons chatter.

 

Then a shocking murder in a midnight garden changes everything. Headstrong Cassandra Blaine is supposed to marry into the Austrian nobility in one of those arranged matches like Consuela Vanderbilt’s still popular with wealthy American parents eager for titles and impoverished European nobility who have them to offer. But Cassandra is murdered, and her former lover, the dashing Hungarian Endre Molnár, is the prime suspect. Taken with the young man and convinced of his innocence, Edna begins investigating with the help of Winifred and two avant-garde Hungarian artists.

 

Meanwhile possible war with Serbia is the topic of the day as Archduke Franz Ferdinand prepares to head to Sarajevo. While the world braces for disaster, Edna uncovers the truth—and it scares her.

Edna Ferber

Mystery Series

 

 

Cold Morning

ISBN - 978-1-4642-0543-9

January 3, 1935. The trial opens in Flemington, New Jersey, for the man accused of “the crime of the century.” And Edna Ferber is there to cover it.1932. On a windy March 1 night, Charles Lindbergh, America’s hero, discovers that his twenty-month-old son has been snatched from his crib. A ransom is arranged. Yet two months later, Little Lindy is found in a ditch near his Hopewell home, several weeks dead from a blow to the head.It takes over two years to arrest a suspect. Bruno Richard Hauptmann is caught passing one of the marked ransom bills. Press from across the world swarm to his trial.

 

Bestselling novelist Edna Ferber and raconteur Aleck Woollcott, both hired by the New York Times to cover it, are part of the media frenzy, bickering like the literary lions they are. Did this immigrant carpenter really commit the crime? Alone? Observant sometime-sleuth Edna is not so sure.Local citizens, whipped into a frenzy by the yellow press, march through the streets demanding Hauptmann burn. Walter Winchell takes the lynch mob sentiment national. A British waitress at Edna’s hotel, who’d hinted she had priceless information that could blow the trial wide open, is murdered.

 

Edna begins to suspect a miscarriage of justice is underway, fueled in part by anti-German sentiment, in part by class privilege. Edna doesn’t find Colonel Lindbergh the golden boy of legend. But there he is, entering the courthouse flanked by a quartet of New Jersey troopers. There’s Hauptmann, handsome and calm despite his date with the electric chair―unless Edna can alter the course of justice.

Perhaps the finest hour yet for a fictionalized heroine who defends herself against undue prejudice in favor of a supremely unpopular defendant by saying, “I have taken no position—except doubt.”  --Kirkus Review