Mystery Novel Reveals Little-Known Threat to Homefront During World War II

By: Compass Point Mysteries
WEST ORANGE, N.J. - Feb. 4, 2020 - PRLog -- Author John Dandola is known for his impeccable research. His portrait of small town America in his 1940's mystery novels is masterful to the smallest detail—specifically those related to his hometown of West Orange, New Jersey, where at least a portion of each story takes place. As his stories have progressed, they have taken in both the Hollywood's Studio System and World War II.

His recently released Dead in the Shadows reminds readers that Hollywood Studios held ultimate control over their actors right down to the final say in marriages, divorces, and the potential hazard of casting couches. He reminds us that "The Movie Zone" isn't a present-day gossip TV show but originally the area within thirty miles of Hollywood proper which allowed for location shooting without paying additional wages to the unions. That is why this story takes place in a small California town which is being used in a film to double for West Orange.

Lastly, he gives us a group of White Russian émigrés who actually did spy and sabotage work for the Axis powers in hopes that German and Japanese victories would allow them to topple Russia's communist regime and allow the reinstatement of a Czar. The group had clusters of cells nationwide. When the leader was  arrested by the F.B.I., those cells hung on by fleeing to Mexico then crossing the border back into the United States for further espionage and destruction. That's where Dandola's fiction makes for fascinating reading and it's somewhat eerie how history does, in fact, repeat itself. Dandola insists that the fact his story's tie-ins are so timely is purely coincidence.

"Book manuscripts are written so far in advance that I couldn't possibly have foreseen all this current hubbub about Russian meddling and border crossings. But such things did happen in the 1940's."

Dandola would know since he totally immerses himself in the period. He finds some nugget of true information on which to hang a tale making sure the crimes follow logical and practical methods just as would happen in real life. It's why his stories are so believable. What helps is his fondness for the time period. As he says, "Even though it was before I was born, I think the 1940's were classier. I like the movies, the music, the cars, and the women's fashions. Women were more feminine—and no, that doesn't mean that they lacked strength—one has nothing to do with the other."

As readers know, his female characters certainly don't lack strength. But then, there's those Russians...

Dead in the Shadows is 270 pages, priced at $15.95, and available exclusively from the publisher at

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