Cara Walden is the beautiful starlet daughter of a well known Hollywood director, who flees to London with her half brother Gray when he’s targeted by the Hollywood Blacklist. He’s fleeing political persecution, and she’s fleeing the memory of an affair that left her used and pregnant. In London, they fall in with Left Wing party members, a Jamaican band, and Cara starts rebuilding her life as a budding actress, and falling in love with new men, with mixed results.
Whilst this book is touted as being the first in a series of mysteries set in the background of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the 1950’s, the book is not really a fitting member of the crime genre. It’s more historical fiction. Which makes sense, since the author, Lisa Lieberman is an academic writer whose area is post-war Europe. And from that perspective, her book shows a great attention to detail and an understanding of the world in that time and the political and social forces that were at play.
The problem with attention to detail is that sometimes it comes at the expense of character or plot. This book is gently plotted, with focus on the teen at the centres romantic affairs with several men, whom she gets over pretty quickly, and her young fascination and initiation into the world history that she’s being introduced to. Which is interesting, but not news to everyone reading the book. The mystery of the book is what really occurred the night of her film star mother’s death. But it’s considered to be a suicide for most of the book, and is really a subplot, so it’s not a traditional mystery in plot.
That’s a big criticism, really. But actually I think it’s down to expectations. Lieberman has a confident and intelligent writing style, and she knows a lot about the area of history that she’s writing about. And that’s a good thing. If you’re expecting a cozy mystery or a Hollywood story, this isn’t it. It’s not LA Confidential. It’s more like a snap shot of a time and place, and in that sense, it’s well realised. I would just have liked a tighter plot and more character depth, personally. But there is something very worthwhile here and I think there are those of you who will really enjoy this series.
Read It If: you love stories of Post War Europe and film making. The Left Wing politics may put off some readers, but the historical accuracy is very interesting.
Like the sound of this book? Get your hands on a copy on Amazon UK HERE or on Amazon US HERE. You may also like the authors website and blog, Deathless Prose. Take a look HERE.
This book was sent to be for honest review, and all opinions in this review are my own honest thoughts.