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Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen - drama, glamour and witty characters.

The year is 1943. After a tough breakup, New York City murder-mystery playwright Annie Laurence moves to Hollywood to write for Pacific Pictures, one of the less successful studios. As part of the war effort, the movie community was entertaining servicemen before they headed overseas at the Hollywood Canteen. Top actors, comedians and musicians performed, and studio employees worked there as volunteers. When it was Pacific night, Annie decided to help out and mingle. She managed to connect herself to an interesting group which dubbed itself the Ambassador's Club, as they would frequently meet, drink, gossip and exchange witticisms and barbs at one another at the Ambassador Hotel. The group was made up of a comedian/radio host with a drinking problem, a musician, a Chinese actress who yearned to be taken seriously but was relegated to being a sex symbol, a female producer and Fiona Farris, top film critic who seemed to hate everything she reviewed. When she is found dead one night at the Canteen, it was first deemed a suicide. But Annie suspects she was murdered. She is determined to uncover what happened. Soon everyone becomes a suspect, including Annie.

Author Sarah James brings back the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood in Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen. The book also depicts the dark side of the studio system during this era. Many secrets were kept and some of the most talented people lived in fear that the media would reveal them. The studios had powerful people in their pockets to keep their secrets. What I enjoyed the most about the book was the humor and banter between the members of the Ambassador's Club, who weren't a very likeable bunch. As for the murder, my early assumption as to who was guilty turned out to be right, so I wasn't surprised by the ending. But I didn't get the sense that the author was going for anything shocking. This quick-read book did a good job creating the ambiance of the Golden Age of Hollywood, which I found very appealing. If this era is of interest to you, it's worth checking out.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for the advance copy.

Rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Historical Fiction | Mystery.

Publication Date: November 7, 2023.

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