First in a captivating Jazz age mystery series from author Katharine Schellman, Last Call at the Nightingale beckons readers into a darkly glamorous speakeasy where music, liquor, and secrets flow.
"Schellman is at the top of her craft and delivers a murder mystery with clever twists and turns and memorable personalities."—Denny S. Bryce, Bestselling Author of Wild Women and the Blues
New York, 1924. Vivian Kelly's days are filled with drudgery, from the tenement lodging she shares with her sister to the dress shop where she sews for hours every day.
But at night, she escapes to The Nightingale, an underground dance hall where illegal liquor flows and the band plays the Charleston with reckless excitement. With a bartender willing to slip her a free glass of champagne and friends who know the owner, Vivian can lose herself in the music. No one asks where she came from or how much money she has. No one bats an eye if she flirts with men or women as long as she can keep up on the dance floor. At The Nightingale, Vivian forgets the dangers of Prohibition-era New York and finds a place that feels like home.
But then she discovers a body behind the club, and those dangers come knocking.
Caught in a police raid at the Nightingale, Vivian discovers that the dead man wasn't the nameless bootlegger he first appeared. With too many people assuming she knows more about the crime than she does, Vivian finds herself caught between the dangers of the New York's underground and the world of the city's wealthy and careless, where money can hide any sin and the lives of the poor are considered disposable...including Vivian's own.
Vivian Kelly, the courageous protagonist of this excellent series launch set in 1924 Manhattan from Schellman (the Lily Adler mysteries), shares a tenement apartment with her older sister, Florence. Florence is serious and practical, but Vivian, who loves to drink and dance, is a regular at the Nightingale, a speakeasy, and often comes home at dawn before having to toil as a seamstress during the day. Her friends at the Nightingale, all of whom are distinctive characters readers will care about, include bartender Danny Chin, waitress and singer Bea Henry, and Nightingale owner Honor "Hux" Huxley. When Vivian and Bea find a dead man in the alley behind the club, they wonder if he was a bootlegger, but Hux forbids them to talk about it. After the cops raid the speakeasy, Hux bails Vivian out of jail. In return, Vivian agrees, after the cops find the victim's wallet with his ID in it, to spy on the dead man's family to determine whether they can help find the killer. Schellman vividly evokes Jazz Age Manhattan as Vivian proves to be a most imaginative sleuth. Readers will eagerly await her return.
Lack of character development & plot
I was drawn to this book because of its Roaring 20s setting, but it really didn’t live up to my expectations. I had a difficult time connecting with the main character, Vivian, in this novel. She just seemed lost & without a direction in her character development. I also found her relationship with Honor extremely odd & really unnecessary to the entire plot of the book, seeing as how they didn’t end up together. I also feel introducing Vivian’s & Flo’s potential blood relative at the end without wrapping it up with any kind of answer was pointless. I guess I just kept waiting for something to happen that never really surfaced. The outcome of the murder mystery wasn’t all that shocking & basically led to more blackmail on Vivian’s behalf. Just overall did not “wow” me.