Review – Back to Life: A Hollywood Historical Mystery Novel (The Charlie Singer and Katie Walker Mystery Series Book 1) by Lawrence J. Epstein

Synopsis: It is 1939, and the world is on the edge of war. In Hollywood, a pro-Nazi actress is murdered. Across the country, Charlie Singer watches helplessly as his wife is stabbed to death. Almost destroyed by the murder of the woman he loves, Charlie is helped by Katie, a young woman who lost the will to live. To settle a profound moral debt, the two journey to Hollywood. There they confront a cunning killer who will stop at nothing, an organization of American Nazis with a terrifying plot against the country, and the inner demons haunting both of them. Wandering through the sights of Old Hollywood, Charlie and Katie uncover truths about the complex nature of families, the dangers facing their country, and the emotional problems they need to overcome.

The story starts with a peek into the mind of the killer and it doesn’t give much away. It is a good mystery that kept me guessing who the killer is. The author presents the mystery well, allowing to develop without making it easy.  I feel that the characters are well rounded with room for growth. Charlie is a real stand-up guy although extremely successful is still down to earth. He is truly struggling with guilt of not being able to save his wife and still being alive to enjoy life. Katie is still young enough that she sees life in black & white. The unsupportive people and setbacks  in life have damaged her self-esteem to the point that she couldn’t see her value.

The story pace is fast yet doesn’t feel like it skimped. The author describes the hard life of Hollywood with its politics. In the 30s, actors and actresses had to have a certain look for them to succeed unlike now where diversity is expected.  I truly enjoyed the author’s writing style and look forward to the next adventure! The only thing I didn’t like was the switching of point of view from 1st to 3rd. In the chapters, where it switches to show Katie’s point of view would have felt more fluid to me if it had been told in 1st person.  Overall, good read for anyone who likes suspense filled historical mysteries.

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