An Act of Villainy : An Armory Ames Mystery by Ashley Weaver

An Act of Villainy is the fifth book in the delightful Armory Ames Mystery series written by librarian Ashley Weaver.  The series of mysteries jet-sets across Europe in the 1930s with amateur sleuths Armory Ames and her husband, Milo.  In this installment, Armory and Milo find themselves back at home in London and during a night on the town, the couple runs into old friend and playwright Gerald Holloway.

Holloway invites Armory and Milo to a dress rehearsal of his latest play and the couple readily accepts the chance to be among the first to see the production.  It is only when they arrive at the theater do they realize that Holloway has cast his mistress, Flora Bell, in the leading role.  The duo quickly find out the real reason for the invitation to the dress rehearsal is that Ms. Bell has been receiving threatening notes slipped under her dressing room door.  The anonymous author has detailed her demise and Holloway needs their help, imploring Armory and Milo to investigate and find out who is threatening his lady-love.  Time is of the essence when the threats increase and Flora Bell’s life could be in danger.  It is clear that many others have motive to cause harm to the rising starlet and Armory and Milo are bound and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery before opening night.

Ashley Weaver has created two clever and enchanting characters, whose banter with each other has the ability to sting.  I have enjoyed the complicated relationship between Armory and Milo and their growth and development throughout the books from newlyweds to established couple and, at times, everything in between.  Weaver brings Armory to life with her stylish wardrobe, wealthy hobbies and pampered lifestyle.  If you are a fan of cozy, traditional mysteries with two adventurous personalities, try the Armory Ames Mystery Series!

 

Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story on DVD

Guest post by Laura V.

After watching Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story, I’m left to wonder what Hedy Lamarr would have become had she been born 50 or 75 years later. Instead of being valued solely for her appearance, would she have been given the opportunity to use her genius to its full capacity? What could the world now be like with a compassionate and caring woman at the engineering helm of invention? Could she have been another Einstein or Edison? Her intellect seems to have been squandered and that’s a shame.

Along with an unearthed tape-recorded phone interview with Lamarr, the filmmakers interview her children, a friend, Hollywood notables, and her granddaughter to compile a portrait of this complex woman. Lamarr was an Austrian Jew with an inquisitive, mechanical-engineering mind from an early age. She was impacted indirectly by the rise of Adolph Hitler before making her way to the United States via London. Even on the strategically-booked boat ride to the US, she leveraged her captivating presence to land a Hollywood contract with MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and showed her fortitude by negotiating for higher pay.

In a time still under the slowly-loosening grip of the Victorian era, a film she made while a teen in Austria, and that was scandalous for its time, Ecstasy, continued to haunt her most of her career.  It appears she was rarely given roles she was capable of and was even cast in demeaning roles because of her “reputation.” Early on she was a devoted mother, but like so many other women who were treated as commodities by Hollywood moguls, she was given drugs for various reasons. This lead to her becoming moody and abusive.

Lamarr seemed to have a complicated relationship with her image. She certainly used it to her advantage but was also resentful about not getting the recognition she thought she deserved for her intellect also because of her image. She and musician George Antheil invented and patented “frequency hopping,” now called spread-spectrum technology and used in Bluetooth, GPS, and military applications but never saw a dime for her efforts. She seemed to ultimately buy into the world’s superficial perception of her, of her value only as the glamorous Hollywood bombshell, with her many plastic surgeries and refusal to appear in public at the end of her life.

Come to the Edge by Christina Haag

Christina Haag, childhood friend and later longtime girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, Jr. has written a moving and beautiful memoir of her years with him, Come to the Edge, which chronicles their lives from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

After meeting him as a young girl as one member of a large circle of friends in New York City, Christina Haag becomes a close friend and confidant of John throughout their high school and later college days.  After high school they both attend Brown University and learn that they share a love of theater both at Brown and later in New York City, where they return after graduation.  After starring together in an off-Broadway play, he confesses his love for her and they embark on a five year romance.  Her memoir tells of the human and personal side of their relationship that was far removed from the prying eye of the public.

She tells of their group dinners while roommates in college, trips to Cumberland Island in Georgia, their near death experience kayaking in Jamaica and of their normal, everyday life in New York.  Her recollection of a man who lived his life on the edge is poignant and reflective.  This is both a completely satisfying and heartbreaking memoir that tells the tale of  love, loss and what could have been.

Hellraisers

Robert Sellers’ Hellraisers: The life and inebriated times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed is a well-written new book chronicling the Bacchanalian excesses of this UK theatre version of the Rat Pack from the cradle to the early grave (except for O’Toole).

However, believe you me, there is no way Frank, Dino, or Sammy could have kept up with these guys.  They must have a different kind of craftsmanship of men across the pond…the kind of guy that can ingest literally 4-5 BOTTLES of high octane spirits per day and still memorize lines and stagger to their stage marks.

To be honest, I may not finish because I can only marvel at their cast iron guts for 50-100 pages.  I’m also starting to get a bit queasy.