Hollywood Buzz: A Pucci Lewis Mystery
Author: Margit Liesche
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (2009)
Binding: Hardcover, 285 pages
Pucci Lewis was used to ferrying fighter planes and undercover work. But it's the dark hours of WWII, and Hollywood's biggest stars, studio moguls, and Washington bureaucrats are working hand-in-glove to merge entertainment and propaganda. Pucci has been dispatched to the First Motion Picture Unit, where a make-or-break documentary on the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) is underway.
Pucci is stepping in for a sister-WASP, now hospitalized in critical condition after an all-too-deliberate plane crash. But who's the saboteur? Why the cover-up? Pucci is drawn into a high-profile homicide. A big-name director has been murdered, possibly by Nazi operatives. Military intelligence wants Pucci to learn what she can from her inside position.
Bela Lugosi is a frequent visitor to the Beverly Hills mansion where Pucci is temporarily billeted. His "niece," a rising starlet and also the housekeeper, has a history with the Hungarian resistance. But Pucci doesn't trust the girl.
Can Pucci steadfastly maneuver through movie land and its narcissistic denizens, finally unraveling the uncertainties to prove she has the right stuff?
MWSA 2009 1st Runner Up for Fiction, Historical
WOW! What a memorable character and fascinating storyline. Margit Liesche's Hollywood Buzz is sure to create a buzz in the literary world.
Within the first few pages, Liesche's lead character, Pucci Lewis, leaps from the pages and into the reader's mind as we accompany her on a brand new (slightly unorthodox) military assignment -- in Hollywood. What a unique concept! A brave, intelligent WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) assigned to duty in Tinseltown. It seems that Pucci's expertise as a WASP is needed to complete a documentary film attempting to showcase this elite group of women and their efforts in the war. The film is a combined effort of the government and Hollywood to create a movie aimed at inciting patriotism and support for the troops.
When ensues is a beautifully written tale of intrigue, sabotage, conspiracy, blackmail, and the search for truth. Set against the backdrop of a major Hollywood production (complete with an introduction to some of the most influential motion picture stars of the day), it appears that someone will stop at nothing, including murder, to halt the production of the film. But who and why? Was Pucci's now comatose predecessor (Frankie) a victim of foul play? Was her plane crash a result of pilot error, faulty equipment, or was she targeted for elimination?
The reader will find themselves enthralled as these questions (and more) are systematically answered by Ms. Liesche's engaging writing style. This read is truly an adrenaline rush -- an entrancing story which will appeal to history buffs, WWII enthusiasts, military lovers, and those still captivated by the golden age of Hollywood.
I found the reading experience much like watching a classic movie. Ms. Liesche's attention to detail was very much appreciated, as was her obvious extensive research into all aspects of her storyline, character, and setting.
I was particularly impressed with the author's masterful use of the first person point of view. I found it refreshing, unique, and flawlessly executed.
The cover is magnificently depictive of the storyline, and is reminiscent of a 1940's Hollywood movie poster. Hollywood Buzz a classy tale about a classic era.
Reviewed by: Claudia Pemberton (2009)