Lloyd & Hill Books
- Unlucky For Some
- Births, Deaths and   Marriages/Death in the Family
- Scene of Crime
- Picture of Innocence
- Plots and Errors
- A Shred of Evidence
- Verdict Unsafe
- The Other Woman
- Murder...Now and Then
- The Murders of Mrs.Austin and   Mrs.Beale
- Redemption/Murder at the Old   Vicarage
- Death of a Dancer/Gone to Her   Death
- A Perfect Match
Other Books
- Record of Sin
- An Evil Hour
- The Stalking Horse
- Murder Movie
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Writing as Elizabeth Chaplin
- Hostage to Fortune
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  MURDER MOVIE (non-series)
Macmillan, London /St Martin's Press, NY (1988)

My seventh novel, published Macmillan, London/St Martin’s Press, NY 1988. Hardback, paperback (US only), large print.

Frank Derwent (FD to everyone in the business), the multibillion-dollar director and Hollywood hotshot, has come to western Scotland to shoot a simple movie of love gone wrong. But most of the real action here happens off-screen. If you could put secrets in a box, the things this cast is hiding would be too large to carry.

Still, the show must go on. Unless someone is murdered, of course – and that someone is Barbara, the budding starlet, who also happens to be FD’s nineteen-year-old mistress. Not quite as sweet as she seemed, the wee lass knew how to blackmail like a professional.

Although clever Detective Patterson is on call to lend the local bobby a hand, he can’t prevent a second murder. And when a third dead body makes everyone suspect one another, even Patterson discovers that no one is safe from his past…

What was the idea behind Murder Movie?
I got the idea for the book when watching something about the making of a film. A film-crew on location is another confined group of people, and of course actors and film-makers have deception as their stock-in-trade. Scenes from the film White Nights had been shot in Machrihanish, which those of you who’ve read my autobiography will know is on the Mull of Kintyre – my original neck of the woods. I thought it would be nice to have the west coast of Scotland as a setting. And I gave it a resident rock star, à la Paul McCartney.

Why is it so different from your other books?
The story is about two movies – the one being shot, and one made years earlier by the female star of that movie. I knew that it wasn’t going to be a serious novel – it was going to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to the good-fun American mystery movie, and have all the stereotypical characters and stunts that you’d expect to see. So I decided to write it as though it were a movie – no smells, no tastes, no textures, no inner thoughts, just what you could see and what you could hear. It’s got long shots, tracking shots, close-ups, establishing shots…I just liked the idea.

Did anyone else?
Some did – mostly in America. Over here, people seemed to take it seriously, which baffles me. I’ve got practically an entire Hollywood film crew being bumped off in spectacularly unlikely ways in a very small Scottish town, with a Chief Super from Glasgow and the local bobby solving the murders with considerable help from the leading man, for a start. And at the end, it’s got credits in which you find that the initials of the characters’ names (and indeed everything else) are derived from their stereotypes: the Bimbo Starlet is Barbara Slaney, the Matinee Idol is Mark Ingram, the Soap Queen is Sue Quentin, the rock band is Restless Bodies, and so on. It’s got a soundtrack, for goodness’ sake, and it ends – after the credits – on a freeze-frame! How could anyone think it was serious? The Americans got the joke, thank goodness.

So how were the reviews this time?
Over here, polite but baffled. In the States, very generous. And my favourite one was from the Los Angeles Times, which said that ‘the author knows her way around a film set’. Since I had never set foot on a film set (I have since, and I was pleased to find that it didn’t differ much from my imagined one) that comment was music to my ears, coming as it did from someone in the film capital of the world. I did a great deal of research for Murder Movie, and it seems to have been worth it.

Have you thought of actually writing the novel that was being filmed in Murder Movie?
My editor at the time said that she really liked the sound of Three Clear Sundays (billed in the ‘credits’ as The Critical Success). I suspect she liked it better than Murder Movie itself. I might give the idea some serious thought, if ever I have time to indulge myself. It would require yet more research, of course, being set in Victorian times.

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