Please welcome Denise Hamilton, author of the new novel, Damage Control!

by Denise Hamilton

How about a little Hollywood Confidential?

That was the name of a 1940s movie star gossip magazine back when men wore hats and women wore cocktail frocks that emphasized décolletage rather than exposing it.

I’m no star, I’m a Los Angeles mystery writer whose books are dark, noiry, romantic and glamorous – think Michael Connelly, James Ellroy and an edgier Sue Grafton.

But I’ve also got a little secret.

Late at night as my family slumbers, I enter an obsessive online world. Bathed in the monitor’s green glow, I pop open glass vials, lift them to my nose or press against my wrists.

My drug is perfume, you see. I’m quite smitten by it.

I’m also the perfume columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

Maybe it came of having a White Russian mother who lived on the French Riviera and wore Chanel Cristalle, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Madame Rochas. I’d spend hours in the bathroom as a child, sampling these gorgeous fragrances.

I’ve worn perfume since then, but it wasn’t until I bought a bottle of Donna Karan Chaos perfume at the Goodwill that I tumbled down the rabbit hole into true obsession.

Coming home, I learned it was discontinued and fetched $300 on Ebay.

Instead of selling I’d spritz it each morning, wondering why people went crazy for this spicy, rich exotic perfume. The third day, I fell in love.

I started buying small perfume samples online and reading the wonderful perfume blogs, where I learned about Haitan vetiver, Madagascar vanilla and Mysore sandalwood. Did you know that 80-year-old parfums stored away from heat and light can be as heady and intoxicating as fine aged wine?

Today, I remain in awe of how perfumers “compose” fragrance. Great perfumes thrill, inspire and seduce. They offer a personal way to experience great art.

Perfume also wafts through the pages of mystery writers Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell and Ian Fleming. Smell is the least used of our five senses, but mystery writers have long woven olfactory clues, obsessions and scent triggers into their plots.

That’s why I made Maggie Silver, the heroine in my new book Damage Control, a budding perfumista.

Damage Control deals with a political sex scandal, surf noir and the intense friendship of two teenaged girls. When something awful happens at a beach party one night, their friendship is ruined. Fifteen years later they meet again after a Senator’s beautiful young aide is found murdered. As the two one-time friends confront their past, Maggie’s olfactory skills will prove crucial as perfume offers a clue.

I wish you fragrant reading.

I have 1 copy of Damage Control to give away!

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This giveaway is open to US residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on October 30, 2011.

Giveaway copy was provided free of any obligation by Scribner. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.