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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 Colby off a cliff. Now Anita's dead, and Cece's under suspicion (tip: don's 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 goes on the lam, where she'll encounter mysterious strangers, unhelpful strippers, a bottle of Hitchcock—blond hair dye, and twists and turns so eerie it's as if the auteur himself were writing the script.



For those readers who prefer their mysteries to be screwball rather than hard-boiled, here's a...suggestion: Susan Kandel's fizzy new Cece Caruso novel, Dial H for Hitchcock. Caruso makes her living as a mystery biographer and, in previous outings, she has submerged herself in the lives and plots of Agatha Christie, Carolyn Keene, Perry Mason and Dashiell Hammett. Here, Kandel pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock, and the plot (which is as thin and preposterous as Grace Kelly's stiletto heels in Rear Window) winks at Vertigo and Psycho, as well as many of the MacGuffins in the Hitchcock canon. Also fun is the fact that Kandel laces her story with anecdotes about Hitchcock and his leading ladies. A word of warning: I would advise waiting until the kiddies are occupied with their dreidels or toys until repeating Hitch's infamous quip about Lifeboat star Tallulah Bankhead - and her aversion to underwear - at the dinner table this holiday season. ONE OF THE YEAR'S FIVE MOST MESMERIZING MYSTERIES!

So, are we agreed that chick lit mysteries have pretty much run their course, elbowed out by sexier trends involving vampire detectives and blasphemous reincarnations of Jane Austen? That thinning out of the lightweight mystery field makes more room for real charmers like Susan Kandel's clever series featuring Cece Caruso, an amateur sleuth who lives in West Hollywood and writes biographies of dead mystery authors to support her passion for vintage clothes.

Alfred Hitchcock fans should love Kandel's fifth Cece Caruso mystery  (after 2007's Christietown), a terrific tribute that's also wickedly funny. L.A. vintage fashionista Cece, who's just returned from her solo honeymoon after dumping LAPD Det. Peter Gambino, is researching a Hitchcock biography when her life takes a Hitchcockian turn. After watching a screening of Vertigo, she returns home to find someone else's cellphone in her purse. A curious call on the cellphone leads Cece to Beechwood Canyon, where she hopes to return it to its owner, Anita Colby. Instead, Cece winds up witnessing the cool blonde's murder. As Cece gets drawn deeper into a plot with alarming similarities to the celebrated director's noir masterpieces, she fears she's become a victim of identity theft as well as a dead ringer for the Kim Novak character in Vertigo. Kandel keeps the action tight all the way to a delightful denouement that Hitch no doubt would've appreciated.

Mistaken identities, double dealings, intricate suspenseful plots, not-so-innocent blondes, stolen identities, and murder  -these are some of the most well-known elements that play a vital role in many of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest movies. They also all serve that same end in Dial H For Hitchcock, Susan Kandel's latest page-turning Cece Caruso mystery. ...Cece makes the perfect Hitchcock-style leading lady when she dyes her hair blonde to evade detection by the cops and to try to elude whoever has been setting her up... I'm new to this series, but really liked it. It's a book I'd recommend to anyone who loves a very good, suspenseful mystery novel, with enough twist and turns to make the Master of Suspense himself proud.

...The fifth in the Cece Caruso series is another breezy,   entertaining entry. Brisk prose, a pistol of a protagonist, and nice riffs on Hitch.... 

DIAL H FOR HITCHCOCK is a brilliantly crafted page-turner.\ As a longtime fan of all things Hitchcock, I was absolutely delighted... The storyline was fun and unique and worthy of Hitch himself. Cece is a thoroughly modern heroine, smart and sassy and independent. I thoroughly enjoyed the bits of trivia throughout the story. The twists and turns of the plot and brilliant resolution of the mystery will keep readers guessing to the end. Cece Caruso's world is a world I look forward to visiting again soon! 

If you have not read a Cece Caruso mystery by author Susan Kandel, you are in for a real treat. Her latest madcap adventure a wickedly funny tribute to the master of suspense...The book pays homage to the great Hitchcock and his wonderfully macabre sense of humor. Ms. Kandel blends Hollywood lore (she explains the origins of Hitchcock's famous feud with Producer David O. Selznick) with plenty of raucous fun...Thank heavens, Ms. Kandel has written about Cece, who just might be the greatest Caruso since the tenor, Enrico. 

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