Windhall: A Novel

Written by Ava Barry
Review by K. M. Sandrick

Ninety-plus-year-old Theo Langley returns to Windhall, the Beverly Hills mansion and estate he abandoned in the late 1940s. His return is the first he has been seen since actress Eleanor Hayes was found dead on the grounds and murder charges against him were dropped for lack of evidence. Soon after, efforts to solve the murder case—and once and for all prove Langley’s culpability—begin in earnest, most prominently by investigative reporter Max Hailey.

Set in present-day Los Angeles, Windhall nonetheless harkens back to the early days of Hollywood and the rise of the motion picture industry. Reminiscent of noir detective fiction of the ´40s, Windhall follows Hailey as he uncovers Langley’s missing journals, a fragile strip of nitrogen film, a garden door obscured by overgrowth, a hidden room on the upper floor of the mansion. His journey highlights the contrasts between Old Hollywood and the LA of today, past and present power brokers, and reality and myth in the film industry. The plot takes many detours. In LA: young women murdered in the same manner as Eleanor Hayes. In Old Hollywood: stalkers and abusive studio moguls. As it draws to a close, Windhall leads readers to question what the actual story is and who is telling it.