Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Last Embrace-Denise Hamilton

The Last Embrace
Denise Hamilton
Scribner, Jul 2008, $25.00
ISBN 9781416584933

In 1949 Hollywood, former OSS agent Lily Kessler searches for actress Kitty Hayden, the sister of her late fiancé, US Army Major Joseph Croggan. As she travels by train to California Lily thinks of Joseph, whom she met and fell in love in London during the war as they battled spies together until he died eight months ago in a Budapest car accident. Lily is worried about Kitty who vanished while seeking either rich sugar daddies or men with influence who give her parts.

After taking a room in Kitty's dumpy boarding house, Lily learns Kitty has been murdered; conjuring up the notorious Black Dahlia homicide. Unable to resist as she feels she owes her late fiancé for failing his sister, Kitty investigate the homicide. The case and police corruption lead her to Police Detective Stephen Pico, who pleads with her to let it go. In spite of her attraction to the cop, Lily continues her inquiries though her efforts could lead to her to joining Kitty.

This engaging Hollywood historical mystery is fun to follow due to the antics of the fully developed heroine and the cop who adores her and tries to prevent her from getting killed. The support cast is a bit flat, but the audience will not care as Lily is the star of this look at the film industry between WWII and Korea inside of a well written whodunit.

Harriet Klausner