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Welcome to the official web site of


who is so closely associated with
West Orange, New Jersey;
John Hays Hammond, Jr.; and Hammond Castle Museum.

He has also written extensively to expose corruption in
municipal and organizational politics.
"It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil." Henry David Thoreau

In an interview by mystery author Julia Buckley,

"John Dandola Chats About the Vikings, Scaramouche, and Beautiful, Beautiful Lindisfarne"

Read it by clicking on the image at the left...
The West Orange Histories
West Orange has always been a town unappreciative and insecure about its history and, as a result, compulsively tried to fictionalize it. Finally, there is an author who makes the truth accurate, interesting, and entertaining because he actually knows the subject matter backwards and forwards
Used by the WOFD to teach department history to new recruits
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for the Original Press Release

click here for the

Follow-Up Press Release
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for the Press Release
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(printing is still pending)
for the newest
Press Release
for why this will be
the last local history book
for the follow-up Press Release
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for the original
Press Release
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for the
Press Release
The West Orange Mysteries

John's series of mystery novels set in his hometown began with a stand-alone novel centering on M.G.M.'s World Premiere of Spencer Tracy's Edison, the Man held in West Orange during May of 1940. John was not only the first but is still the only person to piece together all the events of that premiere and he combined that with his expertise of how the Hollywood Studio System worked along with his indepth knowledge of local history in order to intertwine a murder mystery against that backdrop. The popularity of the novel and the fact that it has been optioned numerous times for a possible film, led to a follow-up series of mysteries centering on both Hollywood and West Orange set during the 1940's.
click here for
"Why West Orange?"
Praise for John Dandola's West Orange-based mystery novels:

"An ironically funny picture of the differences between west coast film executives and [an] east coast residential community...It is these ironic ideas, the reality of the period, and the discrepancies in fact that create humor in the retelling."
—The Essex Journal

"Dandola infuses a sense of humor about movie-making and the glamour and glitz associated with Hollywood."
—The Star-Ledger

"Dandola's affable writing style and his extraordinary grasp of time, place, and subject matter still gives the reader a wonderfully perceptive inside-out view of movie studios and small town politics."
—International Titles

"[With] a great deal of research to ensure historical accuracy...Dandola has certainly carved out a place for himself as a regionalist writer; perhaps [West Orange's] first."
—Suburban Essex Magazine

"History and mystery merge in West Orange and many are the familiar figures in this story set in 1942 about World War II rumors centering on the Edison factory..."
— 'Jersey Ink,' The Star-Ledger

"[Dandola's] roots in the area enable him to fill his mysteries with so much local color and detail that even readers unfamiliar with the town can create vivid pictures of it in their minds....One can almost hear the Irish, English, and Norwegian accents as the characters come to life."
—South Orange Book Review

"A unique blend of history, mystery, and nostalgia with the mood of a 1940's film. Clever casting, sharp period dialogue, and memorable scenic descriptions set a backdrop for an unexpected series of events. Great fun, and blessedly different, this is a book to take into your comfiest chair and enjoy as you would an exciting journey."
—Julia Buckley, author of The Dark Backward and Madeline Mann

"Dandola not only has a knack for relating the practical nuts-and-bolts methods once used in movie-making but he can also create a very real sense and flavor of any locale at any point in time. Add very real characters in plots which could quite possibly happen and it's effortless for readers to be transported."
—International Titles

"Dandola's descriptions are so succinct and evocative that readers can't help but visualize how the town of West Orange once looked. Quite appropriately, it is just like watching an old movie."
—Dr. Herman Estrin, Founder of the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame

"A mystery reminding me of a 1940's tabloid...I doubt I'll ever see this kind of humility in modern tabloids."
—Kelly B. Sagert, Lansdale Eclectic

"Dandola imbues his Hollywood characters with a humanity that makes them much more real than their glamorized images."
—International Titles

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