Published by Eclectic Books on February 15th, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Reedsy Discovery
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Did you know that, in the Spring of 1940, the once famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald was recruited by an agent of the French Resistance to assassinate the premier of Vichy France? Fitzgerald had hijacked the “Jazz Age” and made it his own in the Roaring 20s, but now a struggling, impecunious alcoholic, his only real comforts are multiple Coca-Colas and the elusive embrace of his paramour, gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. Hemingway has become the real ticket, making the big money, but when our narrator Henri Duval, a double agent for the Vichy government and the French Resistance, surfaces in Hollywood at the legendary Garden of Allah hotel on Sunset Boulevard across the street from the star-studded Schwab’s Pharmacy, he hatches a harebrained scheme that might just change the entire course of history and restore Fitzgerald to his rightful position on the top of the literary heap. As we peruse Duval’s secret correspondence to his colleague in Washington D.C., we eavesdrop on wild nights with the Marx Brothers, intrigues engineered by dangerous Kewpie dolls, passionate amours with Marion Davies, and run-ins with William Randolph Hearst. The action culminates in a mission to Paris and the seat of the Nazi-occupied French government in Vichy, by way of Manhattan and a visit with editor Maxwell Perkins, enroute to a clandestine meeting with Charles de Gaulle at Heathrow Airport in London and an appointment with destiny and the premier of Vichy France, Marshal Phillipe Petain.
How much do you enjoy Historical Fiction? Emphasis on Fiction. How do you like this to be served?
- Dual time-lines
- Chronological facts
- Epistolary novel
We love all of the above, but there is just something about an epistolary historical novel that makes it so much more “real”. I guess it’s because of the highly personal and one-sided tone that is easily set with epistolary novels.
It’s very hard to believe that F.Scott Fitzgerald: American Spy is a work of fiction. The author did a magnificent job to create a work of fiction that reads like a historical document that somehow got leaked.
Imagine you browse a garage sale and buy a heavy trunk of papers, just for the fun of it. This was 1978 and Google wasn’t your best friend yet. So yes, it’s more than likely that you will buy a trunk of papers and go through them for nothing but pure enjoyment. Please take note of my choice of wording here – go through the papers, not read through them. Imagine you are browsing through this trunk of papers, obviously quite old already, and realize that it’s letters. All written in code.
My! What a marvelous discovery. That is exactly what happened to Mr. Ratchman and aren’t we glad he shared his findings with us! Upon digging a bit deeper and asking the former landlady of the owner of the trunk of letters a few questions, he soon discovered that the trunk belonged to a member of the French Resistance. One Hyman Skolski.
After months of translations, code-breaking and careful historical research, what followed is a fascinating historical account of the letters that Henry Duval wrote to Hyman Skolski. If Mr. Skolski really was a member of the L’Esprit Libre Resistance group, we cannot know for sure, but Mr. Duval was one of the founders.
It doesn’t take long for the reader to get pulled into a world of espionage, political opinions and factions woven in with the lives of show people, business people and writers of 1940’s Hollywood. Mr. Duval was fascinated by the works of F.Scott Fitzgerald and his opinions on politics and his world views. Especially later in his life. As one of the early readers of this novel, I want to believe that there is more fact than fiction in this account. That is how well the author handled this “treasure trunk.”
If you enjoy your historical fiction served as a epistolary work, F. Scott Fitzgerald is a book I will invite you to take a closer look at.
About the Author
Murray Sinclair is best known for his hard-boiled Ben Crandel series, a trio of Los Angeles-based mystery novels about a down-on-his luck writer set in early 1980s Hollywood. The first of the three, Tough Luck L.A., received the Special Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for providing us with a review copy of this book. All thoughts are our own.
What an interesting sounding book! I can’t quite imagine F. Scott Fitzgerald as a spy but I’m definitely willing to give it a try.
I think if this book was presented as a spy adventure novel – it would have been stronger for sure!
What an interesting story!
It was quite interesting, yes. Think the story could have been stronger, but still fascinating enough.
Hope you are well Wendy!