Last Call at the Nightingale

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781250831828. $27.99. M
Schellman moves from Regency-era London in previous mysteries (“Lily Adler” series) to 1924 Jazz Age New York in a compelling, atmospheric series debut. Vivian Kelly, a young Irish dressmaker living in New York City, longs for more than sharing a small tenement room with her sister and working a drudgery job. She craves the freedom she can only experience during evenings at the Nightingale, an underground club where she can have a few drinks and dance. But one night she sees a man’s well-dressed body in the alley behind the club. That’s followed by a raid, and Vivian is arrested, and terrified. She doesn’t have the money for bail so she might be sent to the workhouse. Instead, the club’s owner sends the bail money. Now Vivian owes Honor Huxley a favor. Honor asks her to listen to gossip at the club for information about the victim and who might have killed him. Vivian is soon pulled deep in a violent world.
VERDICT Schellman expertly creates a strong sense of place, introducing a nightclub as a world where people of different races, classes, and sexual orientations can come together.
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