I wasn't sure about reading "Hollywood Sinners." It's about Hollywood - not something I'm particularly interested in. But Peter Joseph Swanson's Hollywood turns out to be a strange, exciting and curiously thought-provoking place, and I'm glad I took the time to visit there.
"Hollywood Sinners" is not a terribly long book. At 188 pages, it probably didn't matter that I didn't identify with the protagonist, so I started reading without needing to decide where my sympathies lay. Soon I recognized and appreciated the delightful craft in the writing - hardly a spare scene or sentence anywhere. And I noticed a feeling of fable and sense of the surreal that, I suppose, is rather appropriate for a novel set in Tinsel town.
Not that Peter's depiction is unreal. But it had never occurred to me beforehand to wonder what Hollywood would be like, just before World War II, or where the sympathies of Americans would lie, not just about the war. I absorbed a feeling for a strange foreign place as I read, and found myself looking through a new lens at the present. Karin's mishaps had me laughing, even as I saw them coming. The sense of timing, as well as the sense of time, is very satisfying to the reader. And, though I couldn't agree with Karin's aims, I could delight in the resonance of her misfortunes.
By the end of the novel I was simultaneously pleased and searching back through pages to see what I'd missed. I felt contentedly bemused, and could happily have read further. So maybe I'd better start looking out for the "Joan Crawford Murders" - next in the trilogy.
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