Cece Caruso—mystery biographer extraordinaire, vintage clothing enthusiast, and part-time sleuth—is in freefall. First, she calls off her wedding, for reasons even she can't explain. Second, her newest biography (of Alfred Hitchcock) is way past deadline.
So Cece puts on a houndstooth suit with peplum and heads out to see Vertigo, only to come home with a cell phone belonging to a stranger named Anita Colby. Nothing if not a good citizen, Cece tries to return the cell phone—only to hear someone push Anita off a cliff.
Now a woman is dead, and Cece is under suspicion (tip: don't leave rambling, incoherent messages on someone's answering machine just before she gets murdered). To clear her name and put the real murderer in jail, Cece's going on the lam, where she'll encounter mysterious strangers, unhelpful strippers, a bottle of blond hair dye, and twists and turns so eerie it's as if Hitch himself were writing the script.
I appreciate mystery novels that feature a unique and unlikely sleuth. Although clever, charming Sherlock Holmes and clean-cut Nancy Drew are entertaining individuals, the woman at the center of the conflict in Dial H for Hitchcock is an absolute riot. Susan Kandel has created a sharp character that can’t seem to catch a break, and Dina Pearlman brings her witty sarcasm to life in her narration of this engrossing crime scene fiction.
Enter Cece Caruso. She writes biographies of famous mystery authors, and her latest assignment a biography of the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock is far past deadline. To battle her writer’s block blues, she catches a matinee showing of Vertigo one afternoon. She leaves the theater with both renewed confidence and a mysterious hot pink cell phone belonging to a woman named Anita Colby. Shortly thereafter, Anita is pushed off a cliff, and Cece is a suspect in her murder.
Cece must get the heck out of dodge, as Anita’s murderer is doing everything possible to lead law enforcement to her. After exchanging a closetful of her vintage designer clothing for a wad of cash, she heads out of LA via Highway 1 in search of some sort of explanation of Anita’s demise. Pearlman guides us through a trail of clues to unravel a mystery that Hitchcock himself could have written.
Dial H for Hitchcock is simultaneously hysterical and suspenseful, and Cece’s sleuthing is best experienced through Pearlman’s voice. As Pearlman captures this audacious, spunky character, she also immerses the listener in the beguiling California landscape that plays an equally important role in the story. I felt like I was on the run with Cece, piecing together this “whodunit” mystery through her outrageous encounters. Suzanne Day
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