Make Believe by Ed Ifkovic starts off with Max Jeffries being murdered and, as usual, the motive or identity of the murderer is unknown. Immediately the story reverts to Edna Ferber heading to Hollywood. She had met Max when he was working on the 1927 Broadway production of Show Boat. The current year is 1951 and he created a new version starring Ava Gardner. Meeting through Max, Edna and Ava become friends and socialize. Frank Sinatra comes to the scene as Ava’s affair with him becomes a scandal in Hollywood. Just before the murder, Frank and Max have a public scuffle. Suspicions… did Frank or his henchmen kill Max?
The story unravels while uncovering greed and jealousy. Edna, quietly and on her own, finds her way into the Hollywood landscape of fame and fortune in order to get clues as to who may have murdered Max. As suspicions go, there are many possible targets.
Personally, I found the story dragged on too much in the beginning for my liking. In fact, I put the book down several times, because it was just too hard to continue reading. Yet, I stuck to it and in the end was glad I did. The story picks up speed in the second half and actually becomes a page-turner at one point.
Ed Ifkovic’s writing is smooth and his character development is superb. As he brings in each character, we learn about her or him in detail and understand the role each will play in the plot.
Make Believe is a good murder story, especially if your interest is in the Hollywood scene. The plot of this fiction novel could very well have been a true crime. Although Make Believe is the third book in the Edna Ferber Mystery series, I believe the book stands alone.