Sunday, July 23, 2023

Dame Alice Hits Hollywood - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Allie Mahoney to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Allie writes the Dame Alice Mystery series. DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD is the first book in the series.

Kathy: The late 1930s is a fascinating time in Hollywood history, so it's no wonder you wanted to set your mystery series here. Have you always had a love of this time and setting?

AM: Yes, it never gets old! The era of The Thin Man and musicals is amazing, and the music, costumes, witty dialogue and Art Deco sets are timeless. Also, the 1930s was one of Agatha Christie’s most creative periods, and DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD is a tribute to Christie. I also liked that Los Angeles has always attracted a group of creative and diverse people.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite film from this time?  

AM: It has to be Top Hat (1935). Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek” is unforgettable, and Fred Astaire is extremely funny in this film. I love the glamour of the white set, “Venice” in the background, and Ginger Rogers’ feather-trimmed dress.

Kathy: In DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD Penelope Greenleigh is sent to Hollywood to assist with script changes. However, instead of being herself she has to impersonate Dame Alice Cartwright, the world’s bestselling mystery author. Why choose this ruse, instead of having Penelope be herself?

AM: Dame Alice is inspired by Agatha Christie, so I wanted to pay tribute to one Christie’s funniest tropes, which is that if a character wears dowdy clothes, they’re instantly invisible. Christie pointed out that we’re drawn to glamour and youth. She also included switching identities as one of her favorite plot points, notably in LORD EDGWARE DIES, in which (spoiler alert!) the beautiful Jane Wilkinson does a tricky switch with another actress, which for a time confuses even the great Hercule Poirot.

I’m also a fan of the show Younger, in which Sutton Foster’s character trims 15 years from her age in order to get hired by a book publisher. I thought it would be fun to have Penelope pose as the much older Dame, since who would purposefully age themselves in Hollywood?

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AM: My sister and dad both love mysteries, and we had a lot of them in our house. We also used to watch Poirot together as well as classic movies like The Lady Eve, which also features Barbara Stanwyck as a sexy swindler pretending to be British. My sister and I enjoy cozy authors like Rhys Bowen and Jenn McKinlay, as well as comedic writers like Janet Evanovich and Dave Barry. I also love noir books by Ross Macdonald and Raymond Chandler.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

I’ve contributed to Fodor’s Guides and also written about travel and lifestyle for magazines. 


Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

AM: DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD is set in 1937 Los Angeles, which was the perfect opportunity to the lively vibe of Beverly Hills and movie studios in their glamorous heyday.

Penelope, a publishing assistant, is sent to Farley Brothers Studios to oversee script changes on the set of Lady Irwin’s Diamonds, because bestselling author Dame Alice Cartwright refuses to travel from her village of Copley-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds. Naturally, Penelope arrives in the middle of a crime wave! There’s a missing movie star, a stolen diamond necklace, and a gimlet-eyed gossip columnist awaiting her. Gangsters are after the film’s director and an angry millionaire is threatening turn his romantic rival into minestrone.

Next in the series, Dame Alice has been invited by some very unpleasant millionaires to a house party on the French Riviera, and there’s sure to be a murder during her stay. Her sidekicks Penelope, Molly, and Toby the studio assistant will be there too.

I’ve also written the Killer WASPs series, published by HarperCollins’ Witness Impulse imprint (writing as Amy Korman). It’s a light cozy series set on the Main Line of Philadelphia and makes for great summer beach reads!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

AM: I’m partial to Toby, a 20-year-old movie studio flunky who gets fired for losing a 37-carat Harry Winston necklace at Chasen’s restaurant during a promotional event for Lady Irwin’s Diamonds.

Toby becomes one of Penelope’s fellow sleuths along with her best friend Molly, and he’s frequently disguised as a waiter, a driver, or a hotel towel boy. His family owns a drugstore on Wilshire, and Toby’s ahead of his time: He’s working on a certain formula for a substance to be injected into wrinkles called Froze-Ex.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

AM: I can never get enough of Agatha Christie’s ingenious plots and glamorous settings. Many of her characters stand up almost a century later, too. We all know a village gossip (Caroline Sheppard in THE MURDER OF RODGER ACKROYD), a ruthless social climber (the Countess of Horbury in DEATH IN THE CLOUDS), a plucky young couple (Tommy and Tuppence Beresford), and that family that fights over money and status (HERCULE POIROT'S CHRISTMAS).

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AM: I worked as a magazine journalist for years, and have written for Philadelphia Magazine, Town & Country, and Men’s Health. Publishing a book has been a dream since I was a teenager. 


Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

AM: I’d have to go with Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse, and then Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry for their smarts and hilarious hot takes.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AM: THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS by Agatha Christie—specifically, the fantastic audio version which is narrated by Hugh Fraser, who plays Captain Hastings in the Poirot series. It’s a cozy read from 1925 set at a country house, and features snappy dialogue, a plucky heroine named Lady Bundle Brent, and a funny aristocrat, Lord Caterham. I also just finished THE HOUSE ON THE LAKE by Riley Sager, a very scary and intriguing read which cemented my fear of lakes!

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

AM: Along with reading, I love to go to Phillies games and Kenny Chesney concerts, walk with our dog, jog, travel, and watch Father Brown on Britbox as well as the Real Housewives of Miami on Bravo! I’m also trying to learn tennis and Spanish.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

AM: Chocolate! Also, fruit, cheese, and pasta.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

AM: Definitely. Dame Alice, Penelope, Toby and Molly are headed to the South of France very soon.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

AM: In my Killer WASPs series, I received emails and social media messages from readers who told me the books entertained them and made them laugh. Books have always been at the center of my life and for someone to take the time to read one of mine is incredible. Everyone is busy and there are so many amazing authors to choose from, so it’s an honor to share Dame Alice. 



The First Dame Alice Mystery

When Farley Brothers studio request Dame Alice come to Hollywood to make script changes for their latest film, Lady Irwin's Diamonds, Ten Spot Press is on it. After all the British mystery author is their biggest client. The only problem, she refuses to leave the Cotswolds. Not one to give up, the publishing company sends assistant Penelope Greenleigh, a twenty-nine year old New Jersey native to impersonate the forty-seven year old tweed wearing British writer. What could go wrong? A missing actress, a stolen necklace, and a gossip columnist who just may expose her, that's what!

DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD is a fun romp in 1930s Hollywood filled with parties, jewelry heists, veiled and not so veiled references to stars of the time, and lots of misdirection, reinvention, and flim flam. Poor Penelope, forced to wear hot tweed and appear dowdy in sunny California, fearing exposure at any moment. She's a great protagonist, almost as great as...well, you'll see. She's lucky to be surrounded by great sidekicks, her best friend Molly and the effervescent Toby. I'm partial to Mr. Agra myself. Indeed it's not the stars, but the regular people that make the world go round, and help solve the mysteries.

The first Dame Alice Mystery gets into the spirit of this era. I really enjoyed the references to the popular people and places of the time, from eating at the Brown Derby, using the Marx Brothers as a ruse, to talking with Bing Crosby's maid. I love the interconnectedness, just how many people from New Jersey are there in Hollywood?!

Reminiscent of the screwball comedies of the time DAME ALICE HITS HOLLYWOOD is a fast paced entertaining mystery. Grab a cocktail and pretend to listen to The Beverly Hills Off-Duty Policeman's Jazz Quartet and settle in for a good time!


 Dame Alice Hits Hollywood: A Cozy 1930s Mystery Featuring Author-Turned-Sleuth Dame Alice Cartwright (Dame Alice Mysteries) by Allie Mahoney

About Dame Alice Hits Hollywood 

Dame Alice Hits Hollywood (Dame Alice Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Old Hollywood and Beverly Hills, circa 1937. ‎
Wrenfield Books (May 23, 2023)
Digital Print length: ‎ 139 pages
 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? Excerpt on Amazon  

About Allie Mahoney

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.

Visit Dame Alice Mysteries

Purchase Link - Amazon  

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