Who killed Dianna Doll?
That’s the question readers will ponder as they get clue after clue in Mayfair author E. Lewis Brown’s new book.
Dianna Doll is part murder mystery and part fantasy with a little soap opera thrown in.
Dianna is an actress whose odd start in life doesn’t keep her from career successes and romance after romance, according to Brown. While she’s accumulated fans and lovers, she’s also racked up enemies. One of those turned out to be a deadly foe.
Dianna’s tumultuous life comes to an end during a dinner in her honor. While walking across a room and with no one near her, Dianna grabs her throat and cries out, “O, my God, you killed me,” before falling to the floor dead.
Dianna dying is how the story begins, Brown said, and the clues to her murderer’s identity can be found as the fantastic story of her life unfolds.
How Brown created Dianna is a story in itself. During a June 11 phone interview, the Revere Street resident said the book began as a game that he created years ago to raise funds for the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, N.J.
Years ago, in fact so long ago, Brown can’t pinpoint the date, he said he wrote the script of a murder mystery game that was sold as a fundraiser at a Deborah convention. His interest in Deborah, he said, was based on his mother’s many years of volunteering for the center. He banged out the game script in about 15 minutes, he said.
A year later, he decided to turn the game into a mystery novel. That was no quarter-hour lark.
“I was very serious at first,” he stated. However, he put the work down for several years, a time complicated by surgery, he said.
Eventually, he got serious again.
“I must have gone through eight or nine revisions and rewrites before I was satisfied. He had what he thought was a final version until a friend read it and made a few suggestions. Those ideas prompted him to tighten the storyline before he had a final draft.
The book was put out by Tate Publishing this year and is available on Amazon. Brown said he will donate a portion of the book’s sales to Deborah.
There is a secondary mystery running through the book that cinema fans will enjoy. The author had inserted lines from some very popular movies throughout Dianna Doll, and readers should have a good time spotting them and matching films to the quotes.
My Best Friend’s Wedding, Jerry McGuire and, of course, Gone with the Wind are among the movies quoted by Dianna’s characters.
Although Dianna’s life is full of love affairs, Brown said there is no overt sex in the book. “I did that to expand the readership of the book,” he said.
Brown is a local guy who started living in Mayfair when he turned 14. He went to Central High and Temple University. He’s 74 and works most of the year for the Philadelphia County Board of Assistance.
Dianna’s story is Brown’s first completed and published book, he said, but he’s already working on a new volume.
No fiction or fantasy will be involved in this tale of civilian volunteers who patrolled the Delaware River waterfront during World War II. Brown’s father was one such volunteer, and he kept a diary of his activities, the writer said.
“He put [the diary] in a dining room china closet where it sat unopened for 65 years until my cousin took it out, read it and asked me if I had ever done so,” Brown stated. “‘Why?’ I asked, then I read it. The book was born.” ••