Hounds of the Hollywood Baskervilles by Elizabeth Crowens (Book Review)

MRC RECOMMENDS: Hounds of the Hollywood Baskervilles
by Elizabeth Crowens

“I never suspected the reason why the dogs were being taken until it was revealed.” – The Mystery Review Crew

Hounds of the Hollywood Baskervilles

By Elizabeth Crowens
Genre: Historical, Cozy Mystery

Asta, the dog from the popular Thin Man series, has vanished, and production for his next film is pending. MGM Studios offers a huge reward, and that’s exactly what young private detectives Babs Norman and Guy Brandt need for their struggling business to survive. Celebrity dognapping now a growing trend, when the police and city pound ridicule Basil Rathbone and ask, “Sherlock Holmes has lost his dog?” Basil also hires the B. Norman Agency to find his missing Cocker Spaniel.

The three concoct a plan for Basil to assume his on-screen persona and round up possible suspects, including Myrna Loy and William Powell; Dashiell Hammett, creator of The Thin Man; Nigel Bruce, Basil’s on-screen Doctor Watson; Hollywood-newcomer, German philanthropist and film financier Countess Velma von Rache, and the top animal trainers in Tinseltown. Yet everyone will be in for a shock when the real reason behind the canine disappearances is even more sinister than imagined.

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Review of Hounds of the Hollywood Baskervilles by Elizabeth Crowens

Hollywood has gone to the dogs. The movie dogs, that is. Seems like every good movie series has a faithful canine companion in it. But Asta, the animal star of The Thin Man series, has disappeared. Babs Norman and Guy Brandt, the private eyes behind the B. Norman Detective Agency, know the fat reward offered by MGM for the return of their celebrity canine will keep their fledgling business afloat. When Basil Rathbone of Sherlock Holmes fame also retains the agency’s services to locate his purloined pooch Leo, finding lost dogs becomes the agency’s focus.

This book has promise! If you’re a fan of Golden Age Hollywood, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. There are famous names left and right: Myrna Loy, Nigel Bruce, Dashiel Hammett. There’s glitz and glamour, fabulous parties, wining and dining. And I love the idea of a spunky dame as a gumshoe, and Babs is nothing if not spunky. The banter between her and her partner Guy is a treat to read, and it’s clear that they’re friends as well as business associates.

Elizabeth Crowens is no stranger to the entertainment industry, and she uses that knowledge to good effect overall. But it feels like the book is just trying to squeeze in too many things. Too many names were dropped. Too many missing dogs. Too many red herrings. There are plots and subplots, to the point that it was sometimes hard to remember which one I was reading about. 

I did enjoy the way Crowens tied the dognappings into the political climate of the time in which the book is set. I never suspected the reason why the dogs were being taken until it was revealed. And I won’t tell you who, but the author gave us one suspect who would have been quite believable as the villain, and then bam! That person wasn’t the culprit after all! Sneaky, sneaky, Ms. Crowens. I like it!

This is the first in the Babs Norman Golden Age of Hollywood series, and it’s enjoyable enough to keep me around to read the next one. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans Babs finds herself in the middle of next.

About Elizabeth Crowens

Elizabeth Crowens has worn many hats in the entertainment industry in NY and LA for over 25 years. Writing credits include short stories and articles in  Black Belt, Black Gate, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery magazines, stories in Hell’s Heart and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated A New York State of Fright, and three alternate history/SFF novels, which she self-publishes under the name of Atomic Alchemist Productions.

Recipient of the MWA-NY Leo B. Burstein Scholarship, NY Foundation of the Arts grant to produce a self-published, photo-illustrated anthology, a Glimmer Train Honorable Mention, an Eric Hoffer First Prize, two Grand Prize and four First Prize Chanticleer Review awards.

She is represented by Elizabeth K. Kracht at Kimberley Cameron & Associates, is currently writing in the Hollywood mystery genre. Level Best Books recently gave her a three-book deal. Hounds of the Hollywood Baskervilles, a Golden Age of Hollywood humorous soft-boiled mystery will be available on March 5, 2024.

Find out more by visiting: https://www.elizabethcrowens.com/

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