Saturday, July 29, 2023

Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney – Book Review & Guest Post – Blog Tour

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.


Blog banner featuring the cover of Dame Alice Hits Hollywood and its author Allie Mahoney

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?

Book cover for Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney
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.

The result?

“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:

Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney - Note from The Beverly Hills Burglar

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.

Book quote from Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney

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


My Dream Cast for Dame Alice Hits Hollywood!
By Allie Mahoney


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!


Author image of Allie Mahoney
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.


Monday, July 17, 2023

Paw & Order by Chris Abernathy – Blog tour with an Author Interview


Today, I’m hosting author Chris Abernathy and his exciting new cozy mystery series, featuring a cat-detective! I’m interviewing Chris about the book, the series, his work – he’s a book narrator, by the way – among other things. There’s also an excerpt from the book right after the synopsis.

AND there’s a limited-time giveaway so be sure to check it out.  

This post is part of a blog tour by Lori Caswell at Escapes with Dolly Cas into a Good Book.

Let’s dive in. Here’s a bit about the book.

Book Synopsis for Paws & Order by Chris Abernathy

What’s better than a K-9 cop? A feline detective. Detective Whiskers is out to prove himself, and keep his human from being framed for murder, or worse. He'll need the help of his new animal friends and Sheila's group of female sleuths. This cozy mystery set in a small town in Old Florida is purrfect for cat lovers and anyone who enjoys a fun beach read.

Who is really catching killers in Paradise Cove? It’s not the local police. The Paradise Cove Murder Society is getting the job done, with more help than they realize from a furry detective named Whiskers.

Sheila and her cat Whiskers are starting a new life in the perfect little Florida beach town that managed to avoid the big crowds, condos and chain stores. But as soon as they arrive the town has its first ever murder. Good thing Whiskers is a trained detective!

Fred, Sheila’s husband of forty years, was a police detective who recently passed away, right before they were supposed to retire to the beach. After forty years of devoting herself entirely to being a good wife and mother she’s now left to put her life back together, but what kind of life will it be? In a fresh setting, and with some quirky new friends, she slowly begins to remember all of the dreams she had as a young woman. She has a second chance to chase those dreams, if she can stay alive and out of prison. When her next door neighbor is killed and the evidence points to Sheila, it’s time for Whiskers to step up.

Whiskers was Fred’s loyal assistant and he’ll need to remember everything he learned from his mentor to keep Sheila safe as she rediscovers herself. With the help of some unexpected new friends of his own Detective Whiskers sets out to prove to the world, and himself, that he is worthy of the shiny badge on his collar. If you love humorous cozy mysteries where pets take the lead and eccentric friends come together to solve crimes with just the right amount of suspense then the Detective Whiskers Cozy Mystery Series is exactly what you’re looking for.


Excerpt from Paws and Order

Sheila does not understand. I know we’re not supposed to play favorites with our humans, but we all do. Fred and I had a connection that was … special. I’ve tried communicating with Sheila, but— Okay this part is a little embarrassing. Every time I tap her hand with my paw, she thinks I want food or a belly rub. Which, of course, I do. I ALWAYS want food or a belly rub. Or both. But I’m trying to tell her something important, and all of a sudden, she puts those fingernails to work on my belly and I’m gone. Lost. A zombie. It feels sooooo good. Whatever I needed to say is up in smoke, my eyes are closed, and I hear a Karen Carpenter love song in my head.

Don’t judge me.


Exclusive interview with author Chris Abernathy

To learn more about Chris and his books, keep reading.


Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?

Chris Abernathy: I live on the Alabama coast with my wife. We have two boys, one grown and the other too close to it for our liking. I have always enjoyed writing and got into the publishing world as an audiobook narrator. Interacting with authors and publishers inspired me to finally write and publish my own stories.


Q: What is a day in the life of book narrator and author Chris Abernathy like?

Chris Abernathy: I typically spend my mornings narrating and my afternoons writing. My voice works better in the early part of the day and the house is quieter. So, I start off with a few hours in my recording booth. After lunch I sit down with my laptop and see where my imagination takes me.


Q: When did you decide it was time to start writing your own books and series? And when (or how) did you decide you want to write cozies rather any other genre?

Chris Abernathy: I was on a cruise with my family and some friends when I first started writing seriously. We had splurged for a cabin with a balcony and sitting out there in the evenings my thoughts took off and I got several chapters written in one week.

After the cruise ended, it took several stops and starts before I finally finished that book which was inspired by my thirty-year career as a radio personality. I really had no idea what I was doing - I just let the characters take me where they wanted to go and it was a very positive experience that helped me understand myself and people I had worked with better.

That book, Blowing Up the Airwaves, was written under my “radio name” Chris Wright and I added a short prequel, Rise of the Radio Gods. Both were funny stories with some adventure thrown in but didn’t adhere to any specific genre. They didn't sell much but it showed me that I could write a full book and gave me some insight into the style of writing that came naturally to me.

With the help of some author friends, I decided that the cozy genre fit my style and would allow me to create the kinds of characters I enjoyed writing about.


Q: As a book narrator, how many times do you need to read a book to narrate it?

Chris Abernathy: I read the book through and make notes then do some research for pronunciations, etc. When I go into the booth I scan ahead a little to make sure I recall where things are going but I don’t do a close read again before narrating. I want the story to feel fresh as I read.


Q: How many books do you have planned–so far–for The Detective Whiskers Cozy Mystery Series?

Chris Abernathy: I currently have titles and covers through book #5 but I plan to continue for at least a few more beyond that. Readers seem to be enjoying them so if the response keeps going the way it has so far then I’d like to go to about a dozen then decide if there’s more to tell or if the story has wrapped itself up.

Q: Is the entire Paw and Order book narrated from Detective Whiskers’ point of view or do we see others’ perspectives as well?

Chris Abernathy: Other than a preface for book three, the whole book, and series, so far is from Whiskers’ point of view. I plan to keep it that way because it allows me to show the human characters from a non-human perspective.


Q: It’s common to find cozy mystery characters who have pets they depend on. But what inspired you to have a cat as the main, mystery-solving character?

Chris Abernathy: I think that most of us want to put ourselves into the story. With a human as a main character, I think it sometimes limits our willingness to go along with their story. We let our differences impact how we see their story.

Once we place ourselves into the perspective of an animal we’ve moved past that. We leave some of our human biases behind and open ourselves to see the people around us a little differently.


Q: If you can give aspiring mystery writers a piece of advice, what would it be?

Chris Abernathy: My advice would be to first write what you enjoy writing. Write as often as you can and take notice of how it makes you feel.

Once you have a good understanding of what you really enjoy writing then look at what readers are buying and figure out where the two intersect so that you can give them what they want in a way that is unique to your voice but within a framework that is comfortable to them.


About Chris Abernathy

Chris Abernathy has narrated more than 200 audiobooks and now he is writing his own stories. He has been a storyteller his entire life — around campfires at a summer camp as a counselor, on the radio for more than 30 years, as an actor with background roles on major motion pictures and TV series, as a producer of short films for social media and more.

Chris is married with two sons and lives on the Gulf Coast in Alabama. He is a dual national with citizenship in the US and UK and visits family in the Scottish Highlands as often as possible.

Connect with author Chris Abernathy via his website, Facebook, and Amazon. Consider signing up for his newsletter.



As part of the blog tour, there is a limited-time giveaway. So, use the link or Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour including book reviews, spotlights, more interviews, and guest posts. Check them out here.