Today, I have two-part blog post for you. As part of a blog tour for historical fiction, cozy mystery Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney, I’m doing a book review along with an author guest post.
So, before we get ahead of ourselves, let me first share with you the book synopsis. Then, it’s the book review and the guest post, where the author talks about the ‘dream cast’ for her book.
This post is part of a blog tour, though I’m running a bit late posting my review.
Book synopsis for Dame Alice Hits Hollywood
April 1937: When Penelope Greenleigh, assistant at Ten Spot Press, learns she'll be heading to Hollywood to supervise script changes on the set of Lady Irwin's Diamonds, she should be thrilled. Who wouldn't want to mingle with movie stars in sunny California?But there's a catch: Penelope, 29 and from Cape May, New Jersey, has been asked to impersonate Dame Alice Cartwright, the world's bestselling mystery author, who's 47 and lives in Copley-on-the-Wold, England.
On the night Penelope arrives in L.A., Lady Irwin's lead actress disappears and a Harry Winston necklace goes missing. Soon, gossip columnist Hattie Holiday threatens to expose Penelope's deception, mobsters are coming after the film's boozy director, and worst of all, Dame Alice's script has gone from murder mystery to Fred and Ginger-style musical!
The action unfolds at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Trocadero, and hotspot Chasen's as Penelope works to solve the crimes alongside a handsome detective and a hapless studio flunky. Can she find the diamonds, the actress, and survive a wild week in Hollywood?
Book Review of Dame Alice Hits Hollywood
Dame Alice Hits Hollywood is a quick-read novella by Allie Mahoney. It’s my first read for Mahoney but it’s unlikely to be the last.
Dame Alice Hits Hollywood is a different kind of mystery. There’s no death involved. However, a character and the Harry Winston necklace, a unique piece of jewelry with massive diamonds, disappear in the early chapters.
The book opens with a series of telegrams between the Farley Brothers studios and author Dame Alice Cartwright.
The Farley Brothers, who are producing a movie based on the Dame’s mystery novel, ask the Dame to be present for script edits. The Dame, on the other hand, is working on another novel and doesn’t seem interested in being present for the edits.
“Penelope Greenleigh, you’re about to become Dame Alice Cartwright for the next three weeks.”
Penelope thinks she’s under enough pressure posing as the Dame but then the lead actress, Zsa Zsa, in the movie inspired by the Dame’s book disappears, along with a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
Now, Penelope posing as the Dame, along with her best friend Molly, and now-fired Farley Brothers’ assistant Toby, search for the necklace. Penelope and Molly also begin asking questions to learn more about Zsa Zsa and why she disappeared.
“It was one thing to type up Dame Alice’s murder-filled manuscripts, but another to land in the scene of an actual violent crime.”
The book is narrated from Penelope’s first-person perspective. Penelope is 29 and an American, while the Dame is in her late 40s and British. So, we get a lot of sarcasm and humor.
“Toby, you need to taste the stew,” Molly told the kid, handing him a spoon. “Is it beef, or is it Barry?”
“How’d I know if Mr. King was the main ingredient?”
As the story progresses, Toby receives a note saying:
This intrigues both Penelope and Molly, who begin to dig into The Beverly Hills Burglar’s previous thefts – seeing as the police are constantly busy playing music at various homes in Hollywood.
The book is fairly quick-paced. At 140 pages, the book takes place over the course of a week, from start-to-finish. It can be read in a sitting or two.
Several times while reading Dame Alice Hits Hollywood, I felt like I was reading – or watching – a play. The scenes were akin to a play rather than a story. In each scene, we have lots of people coming and going, as if on stage.
As one character exits, another comes in to deliver a certain piece of information and then leaves.
I don’t know if this was intentional on the author’s part or not, but it felt a bit odd.
What’s interesting about Dame Alice Hits Hollywood is the setting. The book is set in the late 1930s and in Hollywood. So, there’s lots of fancy lunches, dinners, dresses, and everything in between.
Penelope maybe posing as Dame Alice but she’s not on the Dame’s financial budget. So, instead of living luxuriously in Hollywood, Penelope has to make due by sleeping on Molly’s couch and borrowing Molly’s clothes.
The book picks up pace when the real Dame sets foot in L.A. and confronts the Dame-posing Penelope.
It’s exciting to see that the quartet, Penelope, Molly, the Dame, and Toby, will appear in the coming books. Dame Alice Hits Hollywood is the first in a series of cozy mysteries. It can be read as a standalone.
Overall rating for Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney: 4 stars
Dream Cast for Dame Alice Hits Hollywood!
Sure, these actors are A-Listers, but why not think big when I envision an on-screen version of my new cozy mystery?
In Dame Alice Hits Hollywood, it’s 1937 Los Angeles, and the action takes place in Beverly Hills, at Chasen’s and the Brown Derby restaurants, and at fictional Farley Brothers Studios in Hollywood’s heyday. Can you picture the glossy convertibles, palm trees, and stylish pool parties? This story of impersonation, a missing movie star, stolen Harry Winston gems, and gangsters and gossips is made for the big (or small) screen!
As Penelope, the publishing assistant who’s been tasked with impersonating bestselling mystery author Dame Alice Cartwright on the set of Lady Irwin’s Diamonds, I imagine Selena Gomez. Yes, she’s too beautiful to be anonymous, but Selena has the ability to fit right in with Steve Martin and Martin Short, and she’d give Penelope just the right air of excitement at landing in L.A.
Since we’re conjuring star power, how about the gorgeous Zendaya as Zsa Zsa Le Coque, the actress who’s mid-fling with an Argentinian aristocrat while not quite divorced from her soup mogul husband?
Dame Alice Cartwright is based on my favorite author Agatha Christie, and when the real Dame shows up in California, she appears to be an introverted, retiring figure until she sips a few daquiris and starts solving crimes. I aspire to hire the real-life Dame (the highest honor in Britain) Emma Thompson. The reserved author unbends a bit while in L.A., and Thompson would do that with so much skill.
As Toby, the studio flunky and sidekick to Penelope, who could resist Simu Liu? While Liu himself is innately cool, which Toby isn’t, Liu is also very funny and doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. And would Bryan Cranston be available to take on the role of canned foods millionaire Morty Le Coque?
Finally, as the big-hearted, boozy oil heiress Emerald Elliman, whose mansion adjacent to the Beverly Hills Hotel hosts many starry soirees, I envision Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham inviting actors, gangsters, screenwriters, and the Dame herself to party like it’s 1937!
About the author
A longtime magazine journalist, Allie Mahoney has written for Town & Country, Time Out New York, and Cosmo.
A lifelong Agatha Christie fan, her shelves are also filled with the books of P.G. Wodehouse, Dave Barry, Sophie Kinsella, and Carl Hiaasen. Additional guilty pleasures: Classic Hollywood movies, fashion, dogs, Bravo tv, BritBox, Phillies baseball, and the beach.
As part of the blog tour for Dame Alice Hits Hollywood, there’s a limited-time giveaway! Enter the giveaway using the widget or link below.a Rafflecopter giveaway