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
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?
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
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.
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
“How’d I know if Mr.
King was the main ingredient?”
As the story progresses, Toby receives a note
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
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.