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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hollywood Hang Ten and Penance of the Damned

Hollywood Hang Ten by Eve Goldberg.  I requested this one because of the connection to the years of Hollywood Blacklisting.  This disgraceful period of blacklisting writers and actors who refused to name names was instituted by HUAC in 1947 and lasted until 1960. 

In 1963, young Ryan Zorn, who has been working with his uncle for a number of years, finds himself alone at the detective agency during his uncle's hospitalization. Twenty-three-year-old Ryan has never been in charge of an investigation and has not always paid strict attention to his uncle's techniques and advice.  On his first solo case, Ryan has to learn from his mistakes.  

The case of a missing boy leads to stolen photographs, blackmail, and murder--with tentacles reaching back to the 1950's.

Hollywood Hang Ten adeptly places the reader in time and place.  I liked the way Ryan's character is forced into growth by the circumstances he encounters.  It is particularly interesting to see the cultural differences that have occurred since 1963.  

Eve Goldberg is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker.  Her screen credits include the Emmy-nominated "Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist" (co-writer), "Cover Up: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair" (writer) and "Maestra" (writer).Her writing has been published in American Popular Culture, The Reading Room, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Hippocampus, and Censored: The News that Didn¹t Make the News. Hollywood Hang Ten is her first novel.

NetGalley/Thistle Publishing

Mystery/Historical Fiction.  Oct. 5, 2017.  Print length:  247 pages.  

I've only read one other Sister Fidelma mystery and feel much the same way about Penance of the Damned as I did about the earlier book--good mystery, excellent history.  

Set in Ireland in 671 AD, Fidelma is sent to find out more about the murder of a bishop.  What she finds is a friend accused, religious disagreements, disquisitions on Irish law vs the laws of the New Faith, and a locked room mystery. 

The first of the novel is a little slow and deals with the recent history between Irish principalities that will effect Fidelma's mission to discover the truth about the bishop's murder. When Fidelma and Eadulf arrive in Prince Donnenach's fortress, however, the story begin to get interesting.

These books are as much (or more) for those interested in ancient Irish history as they are for lovers of historical mysteries.  I find the historical elements fascinating, especially conflicts between the New and the Old Faith and the information concerning ancient Irish law.

Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 90 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan. He has also published 95 short stories. His non-fiction books, articles and academic papers have made him acknowledged as an authority on Celtic history and culture. As Peter Tremayne, he is the author of the international bestselling Sister Fidelma mystery series. His work has appeared in 25 languages.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historical Mystery.  July 25, 2017.  Print length:  352 pages.


  1. Two interesting books given the time period and setting. Will keep them in mind when the mood strikes. :)

  2. Recent history and ancient history. :)

  3. I haven't read too many books set in the early A.D., but Peter Tremayne's book does sound intriguing. You had me at Old versus New Faith. Goldberg's novel sounds good as well. It's always interesting to read books set in that time period.