Genre: Nonfiction, Biography; Author: Peter Richmond; Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Was it a mistake that all those ”Women in Rock” stories never cited Peggy Lee as the ultimate prototype? Maybe, given that she was the first jazz-era ”girl singer” to write much of her own material, in addition to being a control freak about image and staging. Sadly, she may be best remembered today for her Lady and the Tramp contributions, but Peter Richmond makes a convincing case that she belongs on a plateau with Bing, Frank, and Louis. You feel his conflicting impulses when he approaches what might be called the batty-old-lady years, but he manages both candor and respect. Fever is the rare bio of a golden-age entertainer that doesn’t skimp on scandal but is quadruply concerned with conveying musical brilliance. You won’t be left asking ”Is That All There Is?”

Originally posted April 5 2006 — 12:00 AM EDT

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