The Hollywood Spy
A Maggie Hope Mystery
by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Hollywood spy is the tenth entry in Ms. MacNeal’s Maggie Hope historical mystery series. I have read all of the novels, starting with Mr. Churchill’s Secretary which was published in 2012. Maggie has had many adventures, relationships and heartaches over the course of the stories as she experiences WWII.
As is obvious from the tile, The Hollywood Spy takes place in California. There are cameo appearances by so many who lived there in the book; to name just a few there are Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, Lena Horne, Linus Pauling and many others.
Many locations also are brought to life. There are famous hotels, Disney Studios, Cal Tech, nightclubs, speakeasies and more. Each described location feels very authentic.
Maggie travels to California to help a very close friend (and former love), John Sterling, investigate the death of Gloria Hutton. As readers would expect, there are a number of suspects, everyone from the husband she is divorcing to those with whom she worked
Several other murders follow. Are these deaths connected to Gloria’s? If yes, how and why?
While everything just described is done very well and would be enough to lead me to encourage readers to buy this novel, that is not all that was outstanding. What I feel that the author did brilliantly was to describe the times. Note: they were ugly in many ways and bear a resemblance to some current times in America. (Think of the slogan America First, for one.)
The KKK features prominently in the story. The discrimination against Blacks and Hispanics is graphically portrayed. If readers are not aware of this part of the country’s history, it is something that they need to know about. There is surely much to be proud of in the U.S. but also injustices and they are seen here.
In my opinion, The Hollywood Spy may well be the author’s best book to date. I highly recommend it.
The author has included an extensive list of resources at the end of the novel. It will be most helpful for readers who want to further explore the period in which the story is set.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.