When Helen left New York on a train bound for California in 1936, she was looking for a change of scene, planning to stay with her sister in Glendale and babysit her niece and nephew. But when she arrived, she found herself steeped in a world of bookies, mobsters, and a Nazi underworld that she must infiltrate on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League.

Anita Mishook’s well-researched and brilliantly written debut novel transports you to 1936 and the under-told history of the American Bund, the pro-Nazi Silver Shirts, and their efforts to build a summer retreat for Hitler near the Los Angeles coast.


Hello, reader. You ask about my life? I will tell you. My life is a re-launch.

Years ago I got a Ph.D. in Psychology from a prestigious university, which is how they all like to be described. And, I had a good career, including doing therapy, performing evaluations of really difficult people for the court system, teaching, writing articles for journals, chapters for books, and presenting at national and international conferences.

In the meantime, I got married, had two children, went to lots of soccer and baseball games, school plays, and other assorted child ventures. This was exceptionally enjoyable, really. I do not believe that children are “all joy, no fun.” Mine provided great entertainment value.

I also sought other, creative outlets and found expression in writing. I created short stories my instructors liked, but which I could not get published. I have two detective novels sitting in a cardboard box that attest to the finickiness of agents.

Then, it was as if my husband and I were marched off a train at gunpoint, and put on another train bound for a place we did not want to go. No matter how hard we tried, he died.

On that long and desolate ride I began to write again. Helen is the novel that emerged from exploring my husband’s mother’s past and researching the 1930’s at great length. Her story was transformed into adventure, still respectful of her struggles, but giving her a life she did not, in fact, live. Welcome to 1936 Los Angeles, the growing Nazi threat to a free democracy, even in the land of orange blossoms and sunshine, and spies for the Anti-Defamation League. This is why we have historical fiction.

Another adventure for Helen, in 1937, is tickling my fingers.

I have been many things. When people ask, and I tell them I am an author, it usually leads to interesting conversations. To continue your conversation with me, find me at HelenAnMishook on Facebook.

Event Calendar