Velvalee Dickinson: The Doll Woman Spy Book Review & Giveaway

I love biographies and true crime novels! Today, I am sharing my review of an historical biography from author Barbara Casey.  I have read a number of Casey's novels--both nonfiction and fictional pieces.  Today, I have Velvalee Dickinson:  The Doll Woman Spy in our book review feature.  Check out my thoughts on this novel, learn more about the author & enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.

Book Title: Velvalee Dickinson: The "Doll Woman" Spy by Barbara Casey
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 184 pages
Genre: True Crime / Historical / Biography

About the Book

Velvalee Dickinson was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from Stanford University, married three times, and then in the early 1930s moved to New York City where she eventually opened her own exclusive doll shop on the prestigious Madison Avenue. It was there that she built her reputation as an expert in rare, antique, and foreign dolls. She traveled extensively around the country lecturing and exhibiting her dolls while building a wealthy clientele that included Hollywood stars, members of high society, politicians, and other collectors.

​When medical bills started to accumulate because of her husband’s poor health and business started to fail with the onset of World War II, she accepted the role as a spy for the Imperial Japanese Government. By hiding coded messages in her correspondence about dolls, she was able to pass on to her Japanese contacts critical military information about the US warships. After surveilling Velvalee for over a year, the FBI arrested her and charged her with espionage and violation of censorship laws. She became the first American woman to face the death penalty on charges of spying for a wartime enemy.

Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.

My Review

Velvalee Dickinson is well researched and well organized.  The author took a little known crime figure--in this case a quiet, doll enthusiast turned spy during World War II--and shared a wealth of information for readers.  Readers learn about the crimes committed by Velvalee as well as about her life, her high society connections and the woman beneath the criminal spy.  The novel followed "the doll woman" from wife and business owner to Japanese spy in a detailed, organized fashion that managed to entertain and inform.

Velvalee Dickinson: The Doll Woman Spy offers a glimpse into American life during WWII.  The author creates much more than a history book profile of Velvalee Dickinson.  Readers learn about doll collecting and society life during the WWII era.  Whether you are familiar with the main character and her historical espionage and censorship trial or not--history lovers will enjoy Casey's storytelling, attention to historical detail, and time period specific setting creation throughout the novel.  

Would I recommend Velvalee Dickinson: The Doll Woman Spy by Barbara Casey?  I enjoy Casey's storytelling and writing style.  Velvalee Dickinson is well organized, as well as educational and entertaining.  It is the perfect book for history lovers and true crime fans who like to learn more about some of the more obscure criminals in our nation's past.  Velvalee Dickinson is a quick, easy read for biography lovers. 

To read more reviews, please visit Barbara Casey's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book

Meet the Author

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency.

Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three pets who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

Connect with the author: Website

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 14, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Post a Comment


  1. Angela, thank you so much for taking the time to review my book about Velvalee Dickinson and your kind words. It is so nice to share my latest book with you and spend time with you and your bloggers. My very best to you.

    ~ Barbara



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