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The Edge of Ruin by Irene Fleming

The Edge of Ruin

by Irene Fleming

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1909 Mystery, detective afraid of heights but not much else, new silent movie making ( )
  siri51 | Jul 19, 2014 |
It's 1909, and poor Emily Weiss makes the best of things when her husband, Adam, sells their home and possessions (except for his clothes) to become an independent movie producer. He signed a contract promising to deliver four one-reel films in three weeks' time. If they don't meet the deadline, they will lose everything they've risked. They're off to a good start when a man is murdered during the filming of a crowd scene, and Adam is arrested for the murder. Emily not only will have to finish the films on her own, but she must also prove her husband's innocence of the murder.

The mystery was pretty easy to figure out, and I had solved it well before the characters did. The fun was in its historical setting of the early days of the motion picture industry. As independent movie producers, the fictional couple went to great lengths to avoid Thomas Edison's men. I wasn't aware before reading this book how much control Edison exercised over the early days of film. He owned the patents for the technology used in film making, and he was zealous about enforcing them. I also wasn't aware that Fort Lee, New Jersey, where the Weisses filmed their movies, was the center for the motion picture industry before Hollywood.

Emily is a likeable heroine, but I can't say the same for her husband. He preferred to think of Emily as a helpless female, and his ego was wounded when she successfully carried on with the filming while he was in jail. However, when she was in a situation where she really was helpless, he seemed to think she ought to be able to take care of herself.

The second book in this series is due out in a few days, and I've already added it to my wish list. ( )
2 vote cbl_tn | Aug 13, 2011 |
First Line: One sunny afternoon in the fall of 1909, Adam Weiss came home to the three-story Dutch Colonial house he shared with his new wife in suburban Philadelphia, hung his derby hat on the hat rack, and announced to her that he was selling his string of nickelodeons-- and everything else the couple owned-- to go to New York City and set himself up as a movie producer.

Having signed a contract that will ruin them if they don't turn in four completed movies in a month, there's no time to waste in selling everything, moving to New York, and putting together a cast of actors, props, costumes, and a camera man.

They've barely begun filming across the river in New Jersey when a former Pinkerton detective is murdered on set, and Adam Weiss is declared the killer and carted off to jail. Emily is left behind to continue filming so they won't lose everything and to find proof that will exonerate her husband.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the fact that I immediately knew whom the killer was; otherwise, this was a very enjoyable book to read.

Having the book set during the early days of the movie industry when Edison had an iron grip on his patents and hired men to discourage any and all independent movie companies was a stroke of genius. Not only are there ideas for a million future books in this period, it's also fun and educational to read about the birth of one of our favorite forms of entertainment.

The book moves very quickly-- almost as quickly as those one-reelers Emily was producing-- and the characters are well drawn and grab the imagination.

Emily is young, pretty, and a former chorine on stage. Adam is handsome and extremely ambitious. Within a very few pages, these two gain more depth. All their possessions are sold, including a good part of Emily's wardrobe-- but not a stitch of Adam's-- which throws up a red flag concerning Adam's character. A little later when Adam is jailed and Emily is in charge of writing the storylines and scenes for the movies, Emily is shown to be highly intelligent, capable of taking charge, and not willing to knuckle under to threats-- not exactly the type of woman who's going to blend well with a man like Adam.

The history was fascinating, the story quick-paced and well-plotted, and combined with the growth of the two main characters, this all leads me to the conclusion that I've found another series of which to keep track.

Life is good! ( )
1 vote cathyskye | Feb 5, 2011 |
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One sunny afternoon in the fall of 1909, Adam Weiss came home to the three-story Dutch Colonial house he shared with his new wife in suburban Philadelphia, hung his derby hat on the hat rack, and announced to her that he was selling his string of nickelodeons-- and everything else the couple owned-- to go to New York City and set himself up as a movie producer.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312575203, Hardcover)

During the very early days of silent movies, a murder during filming threatens the lives of two independent film producers in this thrilling historical mystery
One day in 1909, Emily Weiss’s handsome and successful new husband, Adam, returns to their well-appointed Philadelphia home to tell her he’s sold everything they own, and they are going to New York to become independent movie producers. As he’s already signed a contract that will ruin them if not fulfilled, Emily agrees to go with him to New York and help him set up their movie company. But of course, it’s not that easy—all movie production is controlled by Thomas Edison and his partners in the Patent Trust who hold many of the major patents used in filmmaking. And they employ a team of often brutal detectives whose main job it is to go around and disrupt independent films, breaking cameras and even heads if necessary.
With a colorful crew of actors, Adam and Emily head to Fort Lee, New Jersey where they set shooting the films to fulfill their contract. After evading Edison’s detectives a couple of times, one of them arrives on the set in time for a major crowd scene. And, while almost everyone’s back is turned, he is murdered. Now Adam sits in jail, charged with the crime, while Emily has to not only finish films but uncover the truth about the shocking murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:36 -0400)

Informed by her starry-eyed husband that they are moving to 1909 New York to become independent movie producers, Emily Weiss finds the effort challenged by Thomas Edison's disruptive goons, one of whom is murdered under incriminating circumstances.

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