The Actress by Elizabeth Sims is the first book in the “Rita Farmer” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, May 2008

Aspiring actress and single mother Rita Farmer has gone from struggling to find work to downright desperate. If she doesn’t land a paying job soon—horror movie, soap commercial, anything—she’s afraid her ex-husband will use her dire financial straits to take away Petey, her cherished four-year-old son.

While she’s charming the crowd at storytime at the L.A. public library, a celebrity defense attorney approaches her with an unusual job offer: So long as she’s discreet, Rita can rake in a thousand dollars a day preparing his client for her appearance in court. Easy money? Hardly. His client, Eileen Tenaway, is not only a wealthy heiress and a queen of the tabloids but she’s been charged with the murder of her own child. The attorney needs Rita to coach Eileen secretly to help her seem more sympathetic, more human. He needs the jury to believe not only her words but the subtle cues of body language, facial expressions, even vocal style. Rita knows she can do it, but what she doesn’t know is how determined she’ll become to find out what really happened to Eileen’s family—once her own life and Petey’s life depend on it.

The Actress, Elizabeth Sims’s engrossing new series debuting a spirited sleuth, delivers a fresh, behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s high society at its lowest.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery that kept me interested until the last page.  My rating: 4 stars

*new-to-me author

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