Blue Moon: A Philip Damon Mystery


1963: When he arrives in San Francisco with his orchestra, Philip Damon's still mourning his wife, who was mysteriously murdered. The elegant charity ball where he's performing sets the stage for another killing-this one involving a dead ringer for his late wife.

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1963: When he arrives in San Francisco with his orchestra, Philip Damon's still mourning his wife, who was mysteriously murdered. The elegant charity ball where he's performing sets the stage for another killing-this one involving a dead ringer for his late wife.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
High society bandleader Duchin and Edgar Award winner Wilson (the Benjamin Justice series) team up for a nostalgia-filled first mystery set in San Francisco in 1963. A bandleader, and son of a famous bandleader, Philip Damon plays swing and jazz standards at grand hotels and special events when he isn't hanging out with such friends as Bobby Short, Jackie Kennedy, Truman Capote and George Plimpton. The name-dropping, which starts on page two and remains a constant feature, will irritate some and amuse others. Still mourning the death of his wife, Diana, the victim of an unsolved murder two years earlier, Damon agrees at Jackie's suggestion to play a charity gig with his orchestra at the Fairmont Hotel, where he first met Diana. Just as Damon spots a Diana look-alike on the crowded dance floor in the arms of real estate tycoon Terence Hamilton Collier III, the lights go out; when they go back on, Collier is dead with an ice pick in his chest. San Francisco's lone black homicide inspector, Hercules Platt, grudgingly comes to accept Damon's help on the case, though Damon is himself a suspect. While the authors supply a reasonably credible plot, the atmosphere of '60s San Francisco they evoke, from Chinatown to Haight-Ashbury, will be the draw for most readers. The characters visit virtually every well-known restaurant at least once. Expect applause and an encore for bandleader sleuth Philip Damon. (Oct. 1) Forecast: The elegant purple dust jacket, with figures in evening dress and piano above the Duchin name, will help attract those attracted to high society. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Two years after the unsolved murder of his pregnant wife, society pianist/band leader Philip Damon returns to the city where he first met her for a stylish fundraiser. San Francisco holds a rude shock: he sees his wife's apparent double at the Fairmont Hotel with a real estate tycoon's heir and the heir winds up murdered. With the help of a few well-placed friends, Damon figures out the connection between his wife's death and this present trouble. There's plenty of namedropping here, not surprising, as society band leader Duchin (Ghost of a Chance: A Memoir) is also the son of pianist/band leader Eddie Duchin; coauthor Wilson is the Edgar Award-winning author of the "Benjamin Justice" series. Their collaboration marks a promising debut in a new series. For larger collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An increasing worry to his pals (Jackie Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio, Truman Capote, George Plimpton et al.), society bandleader Peter Damon views his life darkly these days. He just can’t shake the post-homicidal blues that followed the murder of his wife two years ago. Now it’s October 1963, and Peter’s seesawing about a gig in San Francisco, a city dear to his departed Diana. "You must begin to let go," lisps Truman Capote. "And finally say goodbye," adds Jackie ever so gently. So Peter sets off for the posh Fairmont Hotel, booked there for three weeks by its chatelaine, Charlene Mitford Hogan Statz. Basking in the warmth of her welcome, Peter begins to relax until, glancing out a window, he sees (gulp) Diana! Later that night he sees her again—or her doppelgänger—this time in the arms of society scoundrel Terence Hamilton Collier III, a man about to dance his final foxtrot. With Peter at the piano, and the band in full attack, the lights of the Gold Room go out. When they come on again, Collier has an ice pick protruding from his chest. Did Diana’s double jam it in? Or was it one of a dozen others who cordially despised the late smoothie? It’s clearly a case for Hercules Platt, the LAPD’s lone black detective, and with Peter’s help he solves it in a manner dimly suggesting Dame Agatha’s artful Belgian.

An undistinguished debut cozy. Though bandleader Duchin and old pro Wilson (Justice at Risk, 1999, etc.) know the score, their playing’s flat.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425186459
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Series: Philip Damon Series, #1
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Duchin, bandleader and pianist, has long enjoyed a good mystery and makes his mystery-writing debut with this book. Son of the world-renowned Eddie Duchin, Peter plays in clubs worldwide.

John Morgan Wilson is the author of the Benjamin Justice mystery series.

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Table of Contents

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    strong debut amateur sleuth novel

    He is the bandmaster of the Philip Damon Orchestra, lives in a beautiful apartment in New York City, and is on a first name basis with Jackie Kennedy and Truman Capote among other notables. On the surface, Phillip Damon has it all, but deep in his heart he is still grieving for Diana and their unborn child who were murdered in their apartment while Philip and his orchestra were on the road. The murderer was never caught. <P>Philip and his company are performing at a charity gig in the Fairmont Hotel when he momentarily spots a woman who looks almost exactly like his dead wife. During the actual performance, he sees the woman Lenore Ashley on the arms of famous real state tycoon Terrence Collier III. During the performance, the lights go out momentarily. When they come back on Collier is dead, an ice pick in his chest. Diana was involved with Collier before she met Philip and he is determined to find out if the murders are linked and if so, how. <P>Peter Duchin and John Morgan Wilson team up to write one of the better debut amateur sleuth novels of the year. The work itself is very atmospheric and the story line, which takes place in 1963, seems like it occurs in a world so much different than four decades ago. The plot is extremely well crafted, with so many coincidences and linking relationship that readers will keep turning the pages to find out all the secrets and agendas of the myriad of suspects. <P>Harriet Klausner

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