Last Call at the Nightingale is a mystery novel which takes place during the 1920’s in New York during prohibition and the Jazz Age. Within the story are aspects of the time period which are quite thought provoking. During this time women were looked down upon and those who were not well off and had menial jobs were not respected by men or by other upper-class women. These women felt the burden of poverty and trying to make ends meet at whatever cost. It was difficult for them to ever move up in society. Some did anything to make extra money in order to just eat and have a roof over their heads.
What was not talked about was sexuality. Although there was an underground gay community, both men and women had to hide their feelings for fear of being beaten or killed. They could even be arrested. It was best then to deny what you felt and conform to the norm.
Vivian Kelly is a seamstress, along with her sister Florence. Raised as orphans, their lives are hard. They barely make any money, work hard for very little, appreciate the handouts of their neighbors and tolerate the abuse of their boss who is herself a woman. But at night…Vivian lets loose at The Nightingale, a dance hall which sells illegal alcohol. She is fortunate as the owner of the establishment, Honor, a woman has taken a liking to her. She gets to dance with wealthy men and gets to drink for free. Flornce does not approve of Vivian’s behavior and feels it will get her into trouble.
And then it does. One night at the dance hall she finds the dead body of a wealthy man out back of the club. She is told by the club owner to forget what she has seen. The club cannot afford any trouble. But Vivian can’t let go of what she saw. She becomes fascinated and obsessed with what could have happened to him and why. But there are people who don’t want her poking around and when she finds herself arrested when the club is raided, it makes her life even harder. She knows she is in trouble but has no one to turn to. Then Honor makes an offer she cannot refuse.
Suddenly she is being accosted by sleezy gangsters who threaten to kill her and her sister if she doesn’t stop snooping into the murder. But she is in too deep at this point and in order to save herself she must figure out what happened and why. Will she get to the bottom of it before she becomes the next body? Will she ever feel safe again?
Last Call at the Nightingale is a wonderful old fashion mystery written in an old fashion way. It reads like a story from True Detective, a magazine from years ago. There is fast action, goons, murder, mystery, mayhem and a strong woman who decides to take them all on.
Thank you #Goodreads #MinotaurBooks #KatharineSchellman #LastCallattheNightingale for the advanced copy.