When Oxford academics Catherine Tregowyn and her beau, Dr. Harry Bascombe, travel “across the pond” to teach a summer course at UCLA, the last thing they expect to encounter is a murder. However, the daughter of one of their fellow passengers on the Queen Mary is arrested the day they arrive in Los Angeles. Miss Daphne Binoche, a famous actress, stands accused of murdering her director, Michael Fields. Miss Binoche’s father pleads with Harry and Catherine to lend their expertise to the problem, as he and his daughter are European Jews and do not trust the police.
Their investigation takes Harry and Catherine to the Starlight jazz club where the Hollywood elite gather to dance and gossip. While questioning the rich and famous, they find that many denizens of Hollywood have a horror of European Fascism resulting in a thriving anti-Nazi presence.
Another murder takes place and the community of actors teems with suspects. Are the two murders related? Catherine and Harry move within this artificial society trying to penetrate the enigmatic personalities of people who routinely change identities for a living. Who is lying? Who is misleading them? And from whom are they in danger?
Nothing around them—neither place nor person—seems reliable as they pursue a killer through the make-believe world that is Hollywood in the 1930s.