Book Reviews

A Modern Hollywood Whodunnit

Los Angeles as photographed by Ansel Adams, circa 1940s. Image: Mail Online
Los Angeles as photographed by Ansel Adams, circa 1940s. Image: Mail Online

Early one morning, a Los Angeles delivery driver discovers a body inside a parked car.

It’s likely bodies are often found in parked cars around L.A., but when this body is identified as a Hollywood insider, questions – and eyebrows – are raised. There are several interested parties associated with the dead man; yet, no one seems as determined to find the answers as Anne, a writer returning to L.A. to renew the movie rights to her book.

This premise sounds like a fab 1940s thriller/film noir, doesn’t it? It is a compelling thriller – only this is a novel about murder in modern-day Hollywood. It’s also an insider’s look at the business of making movies in Tinseltown.

When we (as in, yours truly) were asked to preview It’s in His Kiss by the lovely Vickie Lester at Beguiling Hollywood, we jumped at the chance. Lester, who is well acquainted with the movie industry, has given us a very juicy look at Hollywood. (Note: This is a book for grownups; not so much for the kiddies.)

Lester seems to give the side-eye to some of the characters in her novel, and you find yourself wondering how closely some of these folks might be modelled on current A-list stars. Yet she tempers this analysis with warmth and fondness for those who view filmmaking as a craft. Her observations are shrewd but sympathetic, as when she describes attendees at a lunch for Academy Awards Nominees:

Tables set for ten stretched for seemingly as far as the eye could see, and the old guard of Hollywood was beginning to trickle in: a lot of white-haired men of surprisingly small stature, and a few—very few—older women in bugle-beaded suits who still believed in the power of Aqua-Net. (p. 76)

Lester reminds us that Hollywood and Murder have a lengthy and complex history:

“Hello! Have you been listening to me? Movie people have a long, ugly history of hushing up murder. I can think of three suspicious deaths—no four, four that never came to trial. Don’t mess with these people.” (p. 120)

Lester’s writing is brisk and insightful, and she’s sprinkled lots of classic Hollywood references that are like chocolate treats to old movie bloggers. Not only that, her descriptions of L.A. had us doing some online scrounging for airfare deals. The best part of all? Lester has planted an ending you will not expect. Surprise is 100% guaranteed.

If you’re interested in the machinations of Hollywood, or if you like an intriguing story with lively characters, you’ll want to pick up a copy of It’s in His Kiss.

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Available for purchase on amazon.com:

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13 thoughts on “A Modern Hollywood Whodunnit

  1. Hey! An Ansel Adams noir photo, they were taken while on an assignment for Fortune Magazine in 1940, and when he came across the files in the 1960s he donated them to the Library, apologizing that the light wasn’t very good… On the other hand your review is brilliant! May I re-blog it sometime in the next few days? Thank you! V

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  2. I love mysteries and surprise endings so this sounds like a good read to me. I can see how the classic movie references would be like pieces of chocolate. What a great description! I’m sure that makes the book even more fun to read. I appreciate you giving suggestions for a good book as well as movies, Ruth. I actually wish I had it right now as we are out of town for a weekend getaway.

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    1. The ending was a TOTAL surprise. I didn’t see it coming. But then, when I looked back at the story, it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.

      I loved that she included lots of classic movie references.

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  3. Reblogged this on BEGUILING HOLLYWOOD and commented:
    I’m in a reblogging mood! Silver Screenings allowed me to talk with her young writers group (and they certainly won’t be reading my book until they are older) but they are the very embodiment of dedicated writers, it was inspiring spending time with them. Thanks to Silver Screenings for that opportunity, for reviewing my novel, and for this marvelous thought: “Classic movies are good for you, like chocolate eclairs or a trip to the spa. You should never let a week go by without enjoying at least one…”

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