MURDER AND THE KEY MAN [The Birth of Television Trilogy, Book 1] by Clarence Budington Kelland

“In this mystery centering around a murder victim dressed as a homeless man and a missing Stradivarius, the [characters] are all well rounded... The setting of the mystery is a New York television studio. As this was written in 1951, television was still in its infancy and Kelland takes the time to describe how television works. His attention to detail created a believable and interesting world for the mystery to unfold. My favorite character has to be the feisty Grandmother... Refreshing. 5 Stars.” —Goodreads

"The Key Man concerns a television variety show whose members are menaced by a gang of crooks. Kelland does a very good job with his description of early live TV. The young director of the show serves as an amateur detective, with the show's comedienne serving as his detective partner and love interest. It has the feel of a 1940's or 50's mystery story… ” —Mike Grost, A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection

“Video background nicely sketched, characters, including cops, competently drawn. Smooth.” —Criminal Record

In one of the first crime novels ever set behind the scenes of big-time television, Clarence Budington Kelland has plotted a thrilling adventure of danger and death which climaxes in a series of fast-moving surprises. Peter Mortain, one of the youngest directors in this very young medium, was beleaguered enough, directing the first episode of the most expensive variety show ever produced. He had a cast whose first appearance on television made them skittish, a thousand technical details to handle, and a star…who was also his boss!

The blonde soprano was talented and smooth. She was also mysteriously hired at the last minute and was taking the best songs and skits away from the other cast members and claiming them as her own—and the producer refused to stop her. From the first moment she joined the Tod Arundel Show, at least one member of the cast suspected her presence meant big-time trouble. That suspicion became a certainty when a corpse called on the young director.

Peter directed the next rehearsal of his coast-to-coast television revue, knowing that somehow the glamorous soprano had picked up some nasty acquaintances. He worried that his back was the target for the next knife. Peter found out too fast why the sensational blonde was hired, and why their boss was paying her particular attention . . . and why she took a certain non-professional interest in Peter—for a price that added up to his own life. Unwittingly, he had become the key man in a in a nightmare intrigue.

Murder and the Key Man shows one of the master storytellers of all time at his exciting best, populated with Kelland’s vivid, memorable characters, with the signature brilliant, strong-minded heroine, eccentric romance—and showstopper of a grandmother, who solves most of the case herself.

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About the Author

Clarence Budington Kelland is a legendary Golden Age author of mystery and romantic suspense. Kelland penned some 100 novels, and selling them as serials to the biggest and highest-paying magazines of the time—like The Saturday Evening Post and The American Magazine. Many were immortalized on film, of which the romantic suspense comedy and Oscar winner, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, is undoubtedly the most famous. Kelland appeared alongside Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner in the same magazines, but was the most popular of the four. His trademark dialogue and deftly plotted stories “made him an American tradition and won him more loyal, devoted readers than almost any other living author.” Kelland described himself as “the best second-rate writer in the world.” His legions of fans would likely disagree. There is nothing second-rate about his work.