The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal
Review by Margaret S. Hamilton
Susan MacNeal sends her intrepid series heroine, MI-Five agent Maggie Hope, on a personal mission to Los Angeles in 1943. Maggie is British, raised in the United States, and a newcomer to Hollywood. In addition to solving the murder of a young woman, Maggie comes up against the Zoot Suit Riots, Nazi supporters, and the Ku Klux Klan. MacNeal’s solid research is evident in her portrayal of Maggie’s visits to Los Angeles landmarks, including a Hollywood studio. Many famous personalities have walk-on roles in the book, including Linus Pauling, who teaches in the Chemistry Department at Caltech, and George Balanchine, who choreographs a ballet for a movie. An enjoyable read!
Seams Like Murder by Dorothy Howell
Review by E. B. Davis
Seams Like Murder is the first book in the Sewing Studio mystery series. It will be released next month. I had no expectations of the book, but the writing was good and the main character was interesting. Abby Chandler visits her aunt Sarah in small town Hideaway Grove because she hasn’t much to go back to in L.A. After a fight with her boss, being put on leave, and finding out her roommate took the cash without paying the landlord, Abby needs peace. Of course, that’s the last thing she gets when a woman is hit and killed by a driver who doesn’t stop in the alley behind her aunt’s shop—Sarah’s Sweets.
Murder? No one wants to think so, but although Abby didn’t see the accident, she did hear it—and she thinks it’s murder. She gets pulled into volunteering for the town’s Harvest Festival, which gives Abby the opportunity to sleuth. A deputy sheriff provides the point—counterpoint and a bit of romance. A fun read for the beach!
Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden
Review by Susan Van KirkUnder a Veiled Moon is the continuation of a series starring Michael Corravan, Irish Scotland Yard inspector. It will launch on October 11 from Crooked Lane Books. With many parallels to the present day, Karen thoughtfully plots the continuing story of Michael Corravan, whose early history includes his adoption by the Doyle family in White Chapel.
Corravan is placed in the middle of a terrible dilemma when a tragedy based on London's history challenges his Irish roots. He finds himself in the middle of prejudice against the Irish, and the government and media's push to blame the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) for the tragedy. The Princess Alice, a pleasure boat that sailed the Thames River each day, is hit by the Bywell Castle, an iron-hulled collier, resulting in the deaths of 130 out of 600 people. Odden does a masterful job of describing the chaos and attempts to save or recover those passengers.
Who is responsible? The media, as well as the Home Office, wants to blame this on the IRB, a group that could be connected to a recent train bombing. Irish Home Rule is on the table in negotiations at the time, and this could be yet another attempt to push Parliament toward letting Ireland go.
Karen Odden skillfully weaves history, mystery, Victorian society, and politics to create an intriguing story that has connections to the world we inhabit today. I had to read every last word and reluctantly close the book. Loved this story.
Review by Grace Topping
In the first book of her Museum of Mysteries series, Margaret/Molly writes about Scarlett McCormick, the head curator of a museum of art and archaeology in coastal California. Her description of the museum and its staff makes me wish the museum was an actual place so I could visit it. Margaret/Molly takes something as simple as Scarlett having an idea for an art exhibit and finding a recent photograph of a supposed dead local artist and weaves them into an intriguing mystery. Although the death in this book takes place well in the past, Margaret/Molly infused the story with plenty of suspense and a surprise ending.
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Review by Marilyn Levinson
other who has kept a large secret from her. Gripping to the end, there's even an additional surprise that's sure to satisfy readers of suspense.