Please join me in welcoming Allie Mahoney to the blog today to talk about the inspiration behind her new historical cozy mystery, Dame Alice Hits Hollywood!
DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD by Allie Mahoney
SERIES: Dame Alice Mysteries #1
GENRE: Historical Cozy Mystery (Clean, with some language)
PUBLISHER: Wrenfield Books
RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2023
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?
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?
fake it til you make it
In the works of Agatha Christie, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to invent an aristocratic title and become a world-famous jewel thief, and in my new book Dame Alice Hits Hollywood, I take inspiration from the Queen of Mystery
by Allie Mahoney, author of Dame Alice Hits Hollywood
The Comte de la Roche. The name immediately conjures a dashing socialite on the Riviera, and in Dame Agatha Christie’s The Mystery of the Blue Train, the aforenamed French nobleman and lover of wealthy American Ruth Kettering is just that—plus, he’s a fraud.
Christie loved a good phony. Impostors and counterfeit nobility are some of her best tropes, and you can sense that the author had a soft spot for her characters who weren’t to the manor born, but used charm, good looks, determination, and a talent for scheming to get there. The character Count Federico Fulco in my just-released book Dame Alice Hits Hollywood was inspired by Christie’s Armand de la Roche, and the two share a love of fine clothing, sunny climates, and polite manners that draw in women, men, maîtres d’, and small dogs. (Count Fulco, though, might not be the rogue everyone assumes he must be.)
Occasionally the Queen of Mystery created a likeable pretender with darker secrets, like Sir Charles Cartwright, the esteemed retired actor in Three Act Tragedy. Her characters are often extremely complex, and conceal motives beyond the obvious ones of money and status. Poirot himself isn’t immune to being duped by a trickster such as the beautiful girl posing as Lady Millicent Castle-Vaughn in The Veiled Lady (naturally, he exposes her in the end). In some of Christie’s work, everyone’s a pretender: Close to all the characters in Murder on the Orient Express are not who they say they are.
Being a phony works both ways, Christie suggests. You can dress your way into obscurity, and the Dame frequently disguises her protagonists in a maid’s or chauffeur’s uniform to do detective work.
Dame Alice Hits Hollywood, my homage to the author, begins with publishing assistant Penelope Greenleigh being ordered by her boss to impersonate Dame Alice Cartwright, who’s nearly two decades older than Penelope and British. Naturally, almost no one in glamour-filled L.A. pays attention to a woman in tweeds and loafers, with the exceptions of famed snoop Hattie Holiday and one handsome detective. Another of my Dame Alice characters, Zsa Zsa Le Coque (formerly known as Susie Putney), is an actress determined to marry her way into a title, much like Jane Wilkinson in Christie’s Lord Edgware Dies, who wants one aristocratic husband dead so she can wed another with an even loftier title.
Christie continues to inspire us with grifters, con men, and social climbers, and for me, they never lose their fatal charms.
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.
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What about you? What makes you want to read Dame Alice Hits Hollywood by Allie Mahoney?