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Mendoza in Hollywood    by Kage Baker order for
Mendoza in Hollywood
by Kage Baker
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt Brace, 2001 (2000)
* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is the third volume in the Company series, preceded by In the Garden of Iden, and Sky Coyote. The Dr. Zeus Company found a way to profit by time travel, despite the restrictions which allowed travel only into the past and back again, and prevented history from being changed. They selected children whom they could make immortal by years of surgical alteration and training. Then these agents went forward through time in the usual way, collecting and storing lost artifacts, animals and plants, and making very long term investments.

Mendoza is a botanist; she appeared in Sky Coyote, where we learned of her doomed love affair with Nicholas, a mortal burned at the stake in Catholic Mary's sixteenth century England. Now she is stationed at, ostensibly, a stagecoach inn at Cahuenga Pass on the road to Los Angeles in 1862. For the greater part of the book, we learn about the other Company operatives stationed there; Einar, an enthusiast about the early cinema epics to be shot in the region; Oscar who gathers anthropological information by trying to sell notions from his travelling wagon; Imarte, also an anthropologist, who gathers her information in more intimate ways, for example at the Bella Union saloon; teen-aged Juan who has made a pet of a baby condor; and Porfirio, who has broken all the rules by keeping in touch with his mortal family.

The author has wonderful fun bringing early California to rambunctious reality in full living colour, and equal fun in describing the black and white movies of D. W. Griffiths and Erich von Stroheim. The story becomes more complex as the ghost of Nicholas, which has been haunting Mendoza in her dreams, is reincarnated in the person of a spy, Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, bent on winning California for England. A little more is learned about the Company, but it only serves to deepen the mystery. Maybe the next book in the series will divulge more. I am looking forward to it.

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