Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen by Sarah James
Publication Date: November 7th, 2023
Paperback. 400 pages.
About Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen:
"Perhaps the best place in 1943 Hollywood to see the stars is the Hollywood Canteen, a club for servicemen staffed exclusively by those in show business. Murder mystery playwright Annie Laurence, new in town after a devastating breakup, definitely hopes to rub elbows with the right stars. Maybe then she can get her movie made.
But Hollywood proves to be more than tinsel and glamour. When despised film critic Fiona Farris is found dead in the Canteen kitchen, Annie realizes any one of the Canteen's luminous volunteers could be guilty of the crime. To catch the killer, Annie falls in with Fiona's friends, a bitter and cynical group―each as uniquely unhappy in their life and career as Annie is in hers―that call themselves the Ambassador's Club."
Hollywood glitz and glamour, mystery, hidden affairs, greed and murder–Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen has it all and more. It's 1943 and playwright Annie Laurence has just arrived in Hollywood to try to revamp her career. Annie quickly makes some new acquaintances, but all are in for a shock when one of them, a harsh film critic not loved by many, is found dead at the popular Hollywood Canteen club.
What I liked: Sarah James brought the world of 1943 Hollywood to life and I felt completely transported to this cutthroat world where everyone is doing whatever they can to be noticed. There's a pretty large cast of characters in this book and it's a little overwhelming at first, but I soon found them all oddly endearing and couldn't wait to see what role each character would be playing in this murder mystery. I really enjoyed getting to know all of them and their individual personalities. This book is chock full of drama, so it's easy to stay hooked while everything slowly unfolds. It was also highly entertaining getting to dive into this time period of Hollywood and explore the Hollywood Canteen, which was a realclub for servicemen entirely staffed by members of showbusiness.
What I didn't like: The only real critique I have for this book is that sometimes it felt as though there was just slightly too much going on at times and I sometimes felt myself struggling to keep up with everything. There are so many ties between so many of the characters that you have to make sure you're really paying attention, which is the case for most mysteries, I know, but there were times when I felt like it was a little hard to keep up.
While this wasn't the most groundbreaking or original historical fiction mystery I've ever read, but it was absolutely worth the read and I had a great time. Overall, I've given Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen four stars!