Book review: Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy by Barbara Casey

Book Details: Book Title:  Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction, 184 pages
Genre:  True Crime / Historical / Biography
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books
Release date:  April 2019
Format available for review:  print, ebook (PDF, gifted Kindle copy)
Will send print books out:  USA & Canada
Tour dates: May 27 to June 7, 2019
Content Rating: PG – Velvalee Dickinson is appropriate for all ages.

Book Description:

Velvalee Dickinson was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from Stanford University, married three times, and then in the early 1930s moved to New York City where she eventually opened her own exclusive doll shop on the prestigious Madison Avenue. It was there that she built her reputation as an expert in rare, antique, and foreign dolls. She traveled extensively around the country lecturing and exhibiting her dolls while building a wealthy clientele that included Hollywood stars, members of high society, politicians, and other collectors.

​When medical bills started to accumulate because of her husband’s poor health and business started to fail with the onset of World War II, she accepted the role as a spy for the Imperial Japanese Government. By hiding coded messages in her correspondence about dolls, she was able to pass on to her Japanese contacts critical military information about the US warships. After surveilling Velvalee for over a year, the FBI arrested her and charged her with espionage and violation of censorship laws. She became the first American woman to face the death penalty on charges of spying for a wartime enemy.

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Books-a-Million
Add to Goodreads

Barbara Casey

Meet the Author:  

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency.

Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three pets who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

Connect with the author:  Website

REVIEW: Barbara Casey has provided a glimpse into the bizarre and complicated life of Velvalee Dickinson. It was fascinating to learn how a tiny, university-educated woman could prove to be such a threat to the American government and its citizens.

The book is purely biographical in nature and in chronological order. The author includes several pages of photographs that lend credibility and interest to what could have been a dry dissertation. However this was definitely not the case as I could not put the book down. One determines from the onset that Velvalee is a survivor. However, her moral compass was somewhat askew as she had no qualms about pinning blame onto innocent parties, including her dying and mentally impaired husband.

This well-researched, gripping account is easily read in a couple of hours.

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

May 27 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
May 28 – Readers Cozy Corner – review / giveaway
May 28 – My Devotional Thoughts – review / giveaway
May 29 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
May 30 – Literary Flits – review / giveaway
May 31 – #redhead.with.book – review / giveaway
June 3 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway
June 3 – Ani’s Books – review / author interview / giveaway
June 4 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
June 4 – Books for Books – review
June 5 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – review / author interview / giveaway
June 6 – Readers’ Muse – review / guest post / giveaway
June 7 – Just Reviews – review

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book review / guest post / giveaway: KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey

576c48a5-e98d-4f4b-9320-129103afea7a

Book Details:

Book Title:  KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 196 pages
Genre:  Biography / true crime
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books
Release date:  February 2016
Available for review in:  Print,  PDF
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates:  May 2 – 13, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (There are some expletives and descriptions of crimes, although nothing gory or too graphic)

Book Description:  

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is a biography of the woman who made a career of crime. With a lust for danger, she masterminded the crimes that took her and her husband, and others who included her own mother and stepfather, on a spree across Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Starting with smaller crimes that included bootlegging, smuggling liquor onto an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and other petty crimes, she encouraged her husband, George Barnes aka George Kelly, toward a life of more serious criminal activity that eventually escalated into bank robberies, kidnapping and extortion.

Many believe that it was Kathryn, after giving him a machine gun, who developed George’s feared persona and the name of Machine Gun Kelly. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was even convinced that the two were somehow connected in the Lindbergh kidnapping. Kathryn and Machine Gun Kelly were eventually captured after kidnapping Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma City oilman, and collecting a $200,000 ransom the largest ransom ever paid at that time.

Eventually, the two were captured in Memphis, where Kelly had grown up as a boy. During their trial in Oklahoma City, movie cameras were allowed into the courtroom for the first time as curious spectators across the nation watched. Kathryn, while claiming to be an innocent victim in a bad marriage, remained unrepentant, smiling and primping for the cameras, and writing threatening letters to the judge and attorneys assigned to the case as well as her victims.

Convicted in 1933, Kathryn served twenty-five years of her life sentence at FPC Alderson, West Virginia, when in 1958 she was finally released into obscurity. Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn.

Through narrative, FBI files, rare quotes from George Kelly’s son and other relatives and associates, extensive research, and several photographs, Kathryn Kelly ¬The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Barbara Casey

 Meet the author:  

Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.

Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:   Website

GUEST POST:
.

KATHRYN KELLY and the “Trial of the Century” by Barbara Casey

Several years ago, thousands of our citizens shivered in fear of a kidnapper whose name had much to do with the terror he engendered: he was called Machine Gun Kelly. However, there was someone far more dangerous than Machine Gun Kelly. That was Machine Gun Kelly’s wife.

J. Edgar Hoover, 1938, Persons in Hiding

In Oklahoma City, the case was being tried in the building that housed the post office, federal offices, and courthouse. Surrounded by armed officers, entry into the courtroom was allowed only with a pass after taking an elevator to the seventh floor and then climbing two flights of stairs to the ninth floor. In addition, everyone was required to be “patted down.” Inside, there wasn’t an empty seat available, the “electric air charged with excitement,” as it was reported on film. It was the first time movie equipment with sound had been permitted in a federal courtroom.

There were other “firsts” as well. It was the first kidnapping trial after the passage of the “Lindbergh Law,” making kidnapping a federal crime. It was the first major case solved by J. Edgar Hoover’s evolving and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the first crime in which defendants were transported by airplane. And, at the time, it was the largest ransom ever paid—two hundred thousand dollars, the equivalent of about three million dollars in today’s currency. The date was October 12, 1933, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, were on trial for the kidnapping of wealthy Oklahoma City oil man, Charles F. Urschel.

From the old photographs and film footage that have survived, George appears uneasy and sullen, wearing a dark suit, silk tie, and white shirt; and even though smoking was forbidden in the courtroom, cameramen captured him smoking several cigarettes. The facial cuts and large bump on the side of his head that he had received from federal agent J. C. White two days earlier are also visible.

Kathryn seems to have enjoyed the attention as she fluffs her hair and smiles confidently into the flashing and whirring cameras and posing for newsreel cameramen from Fox, Paramount, and other agencies that had followed them to Oklahoma City from Memphis where they were arrested. Fashionably dressed in high heels, a black satin dress decorated with feather epaulettes, and a hat perched jauntily on one side of her head, the members of the press and spectators alike were captivated by this tall, attractive, green-eyed brunette.

Many brought their lunch so as not to lose their seats. Some members of the press noted the “Roman holiday” atmosphere. Everyone watched as Kathryn and her husband, the notorious Machine Gun Kelly, awaited their much-anticipated verdicts.

REVIEW:

Moll:  noun,  Slang.
1.   a female companion of a criminal.
2.  a female criminal
.

Who likes a good gangster movie?  Then this book is just for you. Kathryn Kelly:  The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly recounts the tumultuous activities of Kathryn and George Kelly as they rise from petty crime, bootlegging, bank robberies and eventually into kidnapping.  Both were raised during the 30’s when poverty was rampant and prohibition was spawning bootleggers all over the country.

The book reveals much about Kathryn’s personality – from her upbringing in a poor farming family to a swanky and confident woman enjoying the good life of travel, furs, jewellery and cars – and always one step ahead of the law.
.
Calculating and intelligent, she falls for George Kelly, a criminal with a larger-than-life reputation.  Kathryn’s manipulation of the media increases her husband’s notoriety.  They are untouchable.  Or so they think.
.
I enjoy history and followed their stories with interest.  The many photographs and excerpts of documentation written by Kathryn added much to the story and I was amused by the expressions used during the time.  My father read the book as well and told me how much he enjoyed it.
.
This was a fascinating glimpse into the life of a daring and ambitious woman during the depression.  Even if you aren’t a history buff, I’m sure you will find it fascinating.
.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3842173-1

Book review: Hollow Man by Paul Hollis

4306537_orig

Book Details:
.
Book Title:  The Hollow Man by Paul Hollis
Category:  Adult fiction, 196 pages
Genre:  Thriller / suspense / true crime
Publisher:  Wavecrest
Release date:  August 1, 2015
Available for review in:  Print, ebook (mobi for kindle) ePub, PDF
Will send print books:  USA & Canada
Tour dates:  September 14 to October 9, 2015
Content Rating:  PG
.
Book Description:
.
A terrorist’s plot, the assassination of a prime minister, holds the key to an apocalyptic plan to destroy Europe’s economy. It’s impossible to stop, but one man doesn’t know enough to think the world can’t be saved. He’s no hero; not clever or capable, talented or tested. The Hollow Man is just trying to survive in an uncertain climate where terrorism is changing the rules of how we live.
The Hollow Man won 2nd place in World’s Best Story Contest.
.
Buy the book:
.
4902108
Meet the author:
Having lived in twelve states and eventually working in all fifty, he fell in love early with seeing the world on someone else’s money. Since then, he has lived abroad nine years while working in forty-eight countries, spanning five continents. These experiences helped Paul Hollis bring his own unique viewpoint to his mesmerizing thrillers.
.
Connect with the author:    Website   ~   Twitter   ~   Facebook
.
REVIEW:  
.
Let me catch my breath!  This story takes place in the 1970’s where the European economy is under threat from terrorists.  Doc, as the Hollow Man, is an inexperienced, young analyst who is thrust into one dangerous situation after another racing across Europe to eliminate terrorists, using only his wits and his fighting skills to survive.  We don’t know much about him, bits and pieces of his history are revealed as the story progresses.  As our protagonist flees across Europe, the author colourfully weaves interesting details of his trip by train from Madrid, Spain to Paris, France.  His “compadre” Zita, a M16 agent, is one of the few persons he can trust.  We aren’t quite sure when or where she will show up but the chemistry between the two adds an interesting element into the plot.
.
This was one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time, the suspense was nail-biting, and the situations believable.  You could feel Doc’s sweat.  This HAS to be made into a movie and I have a hard time trying to decide who I want in the lead role.
.
I look forward to reading more of Paul Hollis’ work in the future.
.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

imgres