Lizzie Borden and Amanda Burton join forces with Dorothy Parker to solve a grisly murder in Prohibition-era New York in this “assured and witty” mystery (Publishers Weekly).
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Burton is thrilled to be spending the summer in New York City at her glamorous uncle John’s apartment in the Dakota while her parents are off visiting Tibet. It’s 1924, the decade is roaring, and she’s out on the town every night with her father’s flamboyant younger brother—seeing Broadway shows, going to fancy restaurants and speakeasies, meeting John’s rich and famous friends, and even an occasional gangster.
It’s all great fun—until the morning she stumbles upon her uncle dead on the floor with a hatchet blade buried in his skull. And with Amanda as the prime murder suspect, the New York City cops consider the case as good as closed.
Luckily the hapless teen has an old ally in town: the infamous—albeit acquitted—alleged axe murderess Lizzie Borden. Miss Lizzie and her new pal, the renowned acerbic wit Dorothy Parker, are on the job faster than you can say, “Forty whacks.” But trolling the glittering New York night scene and underworld for a killer can be a dangerous occupation for an old lady with a shady past, a sharp-witted literary icon, and a teenager with a history of violently losing relatives—especially when they keep turning up dead bodies.
In the summer of 1925, Amanda Burton, the 16-year-old narrator of Satterthwait's sparkling sequel to 1989's Miss Lizzie, journeys from Boston to Manhattan to visit an uncle she's never met, John Burton. This debonair and mysterious relative introduces her to Broadway, the Dakota, and the Cotton Club before she discovers him dead from hatchet blows a week into her stay. Amanda whose odious stepmother was ax murdered in the previous outing is detained and interrogated by the police before she reencounters her old (and elderly) friend Lizzie Borden, who has her chum Dorothy Parker in tow. With help from John's colorful cronies, including a hit man whose aim is almost as lethal as Parker's tongue, the women investigate the dead man's dealings with New York's speakeasy underworld. Another two murders put Lizzie as well as Amanda under suspicion. The novel's assured and witty voice holds its disparate elements together, and Satterthwait deftly captures the verve of the Prohibition era as well as its unsavory edges.