City of Mirrors

Title: City of Mirrors

Author: Melodie Johnson Howe. She is the author of several previous books. This is her second book following character Diana Poole.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Readers: Copy editor Lori, metrics analyst Mary, developmental editor Aryooki, victim advocate MJ and nonprofit manager KimJ.

Summary: Running out of money, Diana Poole is forced to go back to the only work she knows: acting. Her much-loved husband and movie-star mother have died, and now Diana is over thirty-five. In Hollywood that means she might as well be dead. Still, a few key people remember her talent, and she lands a role in a new movie. But an actress should never get her hopes up, especially when she discovers the female lead’s murdered body. Raised in her mother’s shadow, Diana knows people in “the business”will go to dangerous lengths to protect their images. When her own life and career are threatened, Diana decides to fight back and find the killer. But unmasking the surprising murderer isn’t that easy, especially when she uncovers what’s real–and unreal–in her own life.

Our Take: An enjoyable and easy read. We enjoyed the Hollywood flair with a mix of modern and old-fashioned.


I really enjoyed City of Mirrors. Diana Poole was not just a strong female character, she was a strong character who also had weaknesses. That’s not as easy to write, and Melanie Johnson Howe does an admirable job with her.

Set in Hollywood, the book offers a look at the actual tough-as-nails business behind of all the glamour of the movies. Much of Diana’s personal story and her reactions to life come from the relationship she had with her mother, one that she is still working through even though her mother is gone. I almost wish we could have met her mother before her death so we could see her as a person, and not just through Diana’s filter. The other background characters were formed enough to make them interesting; the scenes were set well, but without too much unnecessary description. Ok, so maybe the actual mystery wasn’t that hard to figure out and the trail of breadcrumbs was more like a trail of loaves of Wonderbread. It was still a fun, fast, “pull-you -in” kind of read.

Grade: A



City of Mirrors kept me entertained while I was reading it, although something kept niggling in the back of my mind about it. It was a fast read, and written so you wanted to get to the next chapter every time you came to the end of the previous one. I wasn’t sure if this was the kind of book where the author WANTS you to feel smart as you figure out the ending before the characters do, or if I just figured it out early.

Diana’s character was likeable enough, but she seemed so overshadowed by her mother that there was always that suspicion that she was acting in a way to make her DIFFERENT from how she viewed her mother’s life. That’s when I realized that this book reminded me so much of Mommy Dearest (the mother and daughter both being actors, the way the mother acted toward any of Diana’s male friends). I note this is the second in the series, so reading the first one might clear up some of the questions I had about the back-story.

I would check this book out for a poolside/beach read. It goes fast, is easy to get back into if your attention is called away for a second, and while I didn’t end up loving Diana, I did end up respecting her character way more than I did in the beginning.

Grade: B



I’m not normally a mystery reader, so I was a little concerned when first started reading City of Mirrors amidst my flurry of other summer fantasy and horror books. I’m in fact not sure how a regular mystery reader would feel about this book. But I really enjoyed it. I kept returning to it with no hesitation. There was no drag, no point during the book where I just didn’t want to pick it up again. In fact, I finished it over a weekend spent by the pool, which is the perfect place to enjoy this book.

The book is set in Hollywood, and the main character is an actor and the daughter of a famous actor. I have several friends living in LA and who are aspiring TV and movie writers. So, all of the locale references and glimpses at the inside workings of Hollywood really caught my interest and held it. Diana Poole, the main character, is harboring some serious mommy issues throughout the book, though she does a good job of coming to terms with them by the end. She starts off a kind of frivolous character who grows a bit over the course of the book to a more solid female lead.

The book moves into the main plot very early and really doesn’t give the reader time to get bored as the action moves along very quickly. At the beginning I kept thought this was going to be a Hollywood noir type, but in the end, it turned into a more modern day action detective novel with some romance thrown in for good measure. I appreciate that the main character is a spunky and interesting woman who isn’t involved in law enforcement in some way, as characters in this type of book so often are. However, I did keep questioning whether this actress was really the type of person to bother getting involved in the various problems that arise throughout the book. I also felt that at times the author was a little heavy handed with the hints about the mystery. Despite these misgivings, this was a very entertaining read and would definitely recommended it to others. Actually, I already have recommended it to one of my friends. Entertaining and a nice poolside read.

Grade: B



This a modern day story about an aging actress in Hollywood but it has this “old timey” crime novel feel. Really bad guys and a damsel in distress, although as a modern girl she saves herself. Reading it I really expected Mike Hammer to pop out of the background or at least some nefarious James Cagney type character…You dirty rat. And while the language was very modern (hello iPhone), I really felt I was in another time.

Diana was a likable character, despite her insecurities, as she stumbles around trying to solve a murder and save her career. There was one scene that I felt was out of place in the book the sex scene between Diane and Heath (I am not a girl who minds a good sex scene) . It felt forced and unnecessary and almost like it was added at the last moment because you cant publish a book without sex.

Grade: B-



What a fun, fast read…the perfect thing for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Diana Poole is an engaging main character and easy to like. She is gutsy and determined, but we don’t get much background information about her other than snippets here and there to help move the story along. The book opens with her on the set of a movie she is filming and quickly moves straight to the main plot, one that twists and turns with each new chapter. The author doesn’t weigh the story down with many details, in fact, it’s the absence of those threads that tie the characters together that bothers me most. While all the loose ends do come together in the end, it left me thinking that it was just too easy. I wish there had been a little more substance to the story so that I could have gotten to know the characters more and figure out the story for myself, without having to rely so heavily on the obvious hints that the author threw in to tie it all together. Regardless, it was an entertaining read and one that I will recommend to others.

Grade: B


Get it from…

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads | Indiebound | Powell’s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *