Helen, the eponymous main character, leaves New York in 1936 for Los Angeles, to help her sister and brother-in-law in the family liquor store. In the land of sunshine and orange blossoms, she finds bookies, gangsters, the American Bund, and a plan to build headquarters for Hitler on the Pacific Coast. Reluctantly, Helen agrees to spy on the Bund for the Anti-Defamation League. My targeted reader is someone who enjoys historical fiction, which brings together an exciting plot and fact.
1936 and 2017 have unnervingly similar issues. The United States’ new administration is isolationist, anti-immigrant, and shows tendencies to bully the free press. We are a split society in so many ways. As George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The world is full of readers. How they are reached and engaged in today’s web-based, instant messaging society is the question. Media and publicity play a greater role, but major reviewers want only books from top publishers and, then, take a paltry few to consider. Writers must be their own best media consultants somehow.
With historical fiction, an author cannot write a single sentence without double-checking for historical correctness. The tension between research and creativity is constant and often grueling.
Helen offers multiple layers, the psychological experience of the double-immigrant and orphan, the under-told issues of 1936 in Los Angeles, exciting characters, including Bugsy Siegel and the top film director, Irving Thalberg, and a reluctant heroine called upon to spy, all in a fast-paced, easy to read novel.