Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review of "Helen - A Novel" by Anita Mishook - A Unique Look At Hollywood in the 1930s

First time novelist Anita Mishook has written in "Helen" a fascinating story steeped in the little known history of anti-Semitism in Hollywood leading up to the Second World War. Many of us have been familiar with the Communists who inhabited the Hollywood studios during those halcyon days, but few were aware of a robust underground of Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites hell bent on wresting control of the movie business from the hands of the Jews who had built many of the studios.

The story is told through the eyes of Helen, who travels from New York to Glendale to help out her sister. Her plan is to take care of her niece and nephew while her sister works in the family liquor store. One step at a time, Helen finds herself ensnared in a dark world of Nazis, mobsters, bookies, and thugs. The Anti-Defamation League believes that she is perfectly positioned to spy on the cabal of Nazi sympathizers. She is reluctant to play that role, despite her loyalty to the Jewish cause. She soon finds herself facing danger and challenges on every front. Who can she trust? How can she protect herself and her sister?

Many of the fictional characters in this novel are based on real individuals who played a significant role in these political and criminal intrigues at the height of the Hollywood studio system.

It is a delightful and disturbing first effort by Ms. Mishook.  Her characters are three-dimensional and complex, and the action is suspenseful and fast-paced.I look forward to reading more from her.



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