Cover Image: Last Call at the Nightingale

Last Call at the Nightingale

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

An interesting setting and story but I found it a bit uneven and there were too many situations where last second interventions changed the outcomes, too many times characters behaved in ways inconsistent to who they were before the event..  I was expecting a bit more mystery but found it to feel more like a melodrama.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars!

Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Living in New York City in the height of Prohibition, 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. Her only escape is The Nightingale, an underground dance hall where illegal liquor flows and the band plays the Charleston with reckless excitement. 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.

I really enjoyed the setting and writing of this book! I felt like I was in New York City with the glitz and glam of high society, and I was really invested in the love triangle (kinda?) that Katharine Schellman created. Where the novel fell flat for me was in the mystery. I didn't feel like Vivian had any agency and instead just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I also felt that most of the characters were just there to help Vivian and weren't really fleshed out on their own. I think I would read something else by Katharine Schellman, but I'm not sure I'm interested in continuing this series.
Was this review helpful?
Vivian is navigating prohibition like much of the rest of America - working by day and hitting up the local speakeasy at night. But when a night of dancing is interrupted with a dead body, Vivian is placed in an unprecedented predicament of finding out who was involved, and how this may impact her escape - The Nightingale. 

This was a great fast-paced read full of interesting characters, a brief love triangle, and several different story lines that converged at the end. Schellman did a great job of building character development over the course of the story, while integrating intrigue, suspense, and mystery. She captured the time period well, making the reader feel as if they were sitting in the middle of a 20's speakeasy. While overall I enjoyed the book, I felt that the ending fell a little short for me. I would have liked a little more closure on some aspects of the murder. I'm not quite sure how this will be turned into a series, but I'm interested to read more!
Was this review helpful?
For Vivian, dancing at the Nightingale, and the occasional free drink, is a way to escape the dullness and monotony of her life. She and her sister, Florence, barely make enough to live on as seamstresses. They live in a crowded tenement building and life is tough. This is not a glitzy, sparkling 1920s setting. The bobbed hair, bootleg liquor, and dance halls are there, but so are the poverty, racial oppression, and police raids. We see Vivian’s squalid building, but also the opulent homes of the rich.

Vivian and her best friend, Bea, a waitress at the club, find a dead man in the alley outside the back door. Vivian becomes our amateur sleuth, with a gentle nudge from Honor Huxley, the club’s owner. Honor knows how important, and deadly, information can be. The mystery has several twists and turns and the ending surprised me.

I liked the diversity in the characters and that the Nightingale was a place that allowed them to all interact, to be who they were. I liked that the women drove the plot and they each had their own strengths. Their relationships with each other were not always easy, but when push came to shove, I felt like they supported each other the best they could.

I thoroughly enjoyed Last Call at the Nightingale. I feel like I should be giving a drink pairing here, but I’m not much of a bartender.
Was this review helpful?
Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman is book 1 of the Nightingale Mysteries series, and I think it is off to a strong start! This is a medium to slower-paced story set in 1920s New York, and I was really excited about the setting as well as the dance hall The Nightingale where some of the plot takes place. I was honestly thinking the setting would have felt more alive considering it was the ROARING 20s after all, but I found it a little lacking in that respect. Schellman did do an excellent job with the characters though, and I felt like I got to know all of them pretty well, which is great for the start of a series. Vivian is our only viewpoint and I think that worked quite nicely even though I am usually a fan of multiple POVs. It was interesting watching her sleuthing to figure out who killed the man in the alley, and I am also hoping to get a lot more of her backstory as the series progresses.

The audiobook was also really nice to listen to and is narrated by Sara Young. I was very happy with Young's narration and her voice fit Vivian perfectly in my mind. I would highly recommend listening to the audio if you like them, and this book was easy to follow along with that way as well. The thing that really stood out for me in Last Call at the Nightingale was the characters, and Vivian and her sister completely endeared themselves to me. Their relationship is a key part of the story besides the murder, and I can't wait to see how it grows in future books. They have a little bit of a mysterious past which I KNOW is going to be explored, and I am excited for that as well as seeing more of the club. I hope that the next book will have even more of that Roaring 20s glamour, and I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction and mysteries, and anything set in New York.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
Very much enjoyed the characterization in this book and the relationships among the characters, especially the main character and her sister. I also like how it seamlessly blended in identity/sexuality/race during the time period. The storyline was fairly simple and the action was not over the top, but it made it more realistic because if this.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to like this more than I did. I enjoy a good atmospheric novel set in the 20s. I've read other books that deliver on providing a speakeasy, champagne bubbles, jazz baby vibe. To be fair, this is probably a vibe conjured from movies and other books set in the 20s and not a true picture of actual life in the 20s. This almost delivers, but not quite.

The Nightingale is, indeed, a speakeasy in prohibition-era New York. Drinks are flowing, dances are happening, feathered headbands are swaying. All the elements are here, including some dialogue appropriate to the time period (doll, swell, golly) although I have read books with better 20s slang. Somehow, though, it never quite came together for me.

Vivian is a regular at the Nightingale, dancing and looking for dance partners to buy her drinks. She's Irish, poor, and lives with her sister who is her only family. They work as seamstresses during the day. Viv likes a little fun and goes out many nights with her friend Bea, who works as a dancer at the Nightingale. One night, the two girls find a dead body behind the bar. Somehow, Vivian ends up playing amateur detective to solve the murder. 
The murder plot is not convincing. Vivian is not a detective yet manages to stumble across clues left and right. That whole storyline was problematic and filled with too many coincidences. It just didn't hang together.

What does work is the way the author creates the Nightingale as a world where anything goes.. The owner of the speakeasy is a gay woman. She hosts a space where color, race, age, socio-economic status and sexual identity do not matter. At the Nightingale, all are equal. Barriers that exist outside the bar do not exist here and the customers respect this. I have no idea if this is historically accurate and if there were safe spaces like this back in the 20s in New York City, but it works well in the book and with the story, mainly because it is all incidental to the story and the way the characters interact. It feels natural.

Overall, the story didn't fully work for me mainly due to the investigation by Vivian being so unbelievable, but I think it will appeal to many.
Was this review helpful?
This historic fiction, Jazz Age Mystery is set in 1924 New York and was a fun read to be transferred back to the roaring twenties. 

I enjoyed following the main character around as she enjoyed dancing and drinking at a speakeasy all while trying to solve who murdered the man she found behind the club. It was also interesting to follow her around in what her daily life as a seamstress was like even when she seemed to find trouble or it find her outside of the club.

If you love books with a strong female lead or love reading about the roaring ‘20s, this is a book for you. 

Thank you @katharinewrites and @minotaur_books for this #gifted copy.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the mix of historical and mystery that this book has. Schellman created a world that instantly transports you to a time of prosperity and dissipation, freeing music and stifling society. It's in this world that a free-spirited woman must find it in herself to solve a murder that has nothing to do with her but everything to do with endangering the only place where she feels safe enough to be herself. 
Vivian is a great character to guide readers through the mystery because she's an outsider to every aspect of it, even in her own life. She knows and loves the good sides of the speakeasy where she whiles away her nights, but getting involved with the mysterious owner of the Nightingale leads her to discover that there are some very valid reasons for all the secrecy beyond just Prohibition. 
The many twists and turns that the plot takes kept me interested even as some of the big revelations are incredibly obvious long before they're officially made. Seeing Vivian slowly get her bearings and confidence in a world where her birth and gender make her inconsequential to most people made for a riveting read. 
Overall, it's not a thoroughly original story but it is told in a genuinely interesting voice that kept me turning pages and looking forward to reading further adventures with Vivian. 

Happy thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the thrilling read!
Was this review helpful?
A fun twist on historical mystery fiction set in the prohibition that follows a diverse group of characters.

I was drawn in immediately: Vivian is at her regular speakeasy when she and her friend Bea find a dead body in the alley. Vivian is then asked by the owner of the speakeasy to do a bit of digging, chaos ensues from there.

I had a great time reading this, but sadly the middle fell flat which has dragged my rating down a bit. Plus, for following people in their 20s, the tone came off YA. 

While it was nice to see some LGBTQ rep in a 1920s book, the love triangle wasn’t well fleshed out and the lack of information on Honor didn’t keep me hooked. I think I’m team Leo just for that reason as we know more about him. 

Finally with how it ended, I’m not sure there was enough to make me want to continue on in the series. Like what will Vivian be doing?

If you’re looking for a fun, 1920s era mystery, I recommend this one.
Was this review helpful?
Vivian Kelly is poor, living with her sister in New York in 1924, both of them working to keep a tenement roof over their heads and themselves from the streets. Despite this, she’s not afraid to dream, and her nightly escapes to the underground dance hall The Nightingale provide her life with a secret glitter and glamour, not to mention a whole lot of fun.

But when she discovers a dead man in the alley behind the club, she has no idea just how complicated her life is going to become.

Prohibition may have only lasted for 13 years, but it’s sparked the imagination of many an artist. Katharine Schellman hasn’t just set her novel here for the aesthetic though – instead, she touches on issues of segregation, poverty, and class divides with a deft hand that leaves plenty of room for a very satisfying murder mystery with a great deal of heart. The club at the center of the novel, The Nightingale, is more than just a place to dance the night away; it’s a refuge for anyone not completely accepted in the daylight world. Whether they be poor, people of color, LGBTQ+; all are welcome, and there’s an acceptance among its patrons that what happens at the Nightingale stays there.

All of this, of course, means that Vivian Kelly has a lot at stake; and if there was ever a protagonist to get the reader onside it was her. Vivian is charming and vivacious, a hard worker who cares about her family and friends, and a courageous woman who can be afraid and persist regardless. Every character in this book felt natural and realistic, but Vivian stood out as a clear favorite for me. The historical setting is great, too; well-researched and portrayed with the kind of detail that brings a setting to life, without over-egging it and pulling too much focus from the characters or the mystery.

All around, a very good book, one I really enjoyed, from an author I’m very excited to see more from. The ending, while wrapping this up into a standalone novel if it needs to be, leaves me hopeful that we may see more from these characters – and what luck if we do.
Was this review helpful?
Last Call at the Nightingale is the first of a series of Jazz Age mysteries. This was a fun mystery to read, and I look forward to the next book!

Vivian lives with her sister Florence. They were orphaned at an early age, and are barely scraping by as seamstresses. Florence is disapproving of Vivian's choice to spend time in an illegal jazz club most nights, but Vivian needs to have her escape from the stresses of her life.

Vivian's second home is the Nightingale, a place where everyone is welcome and no one blinks an eye at "unusual" behavior. You can be black, white, Asian, gay, straight, bisexual, rich, poor - everyone dances together at the Nightingale.

One night, Vivian and her friend Bea, who works as a waitress at the Nightingale, go out back to the alley to get some fresh air, and discover a dead body. At first, Vivian is told to forget about it. But after a raid by the police of the Nightingale and other clubs the dead man visited, she is asked by the club owner, Honor Huxley, to keep her ears and eyes open to see what she can find out about the dead man. The papers report his death as a "heart ailment" rather than a stab to the heart, and there are a lot of people who are very curious about what he was doing at the clubs that night. 

Honor also asks Vivian to keep an eye on Leo Green, who showed up at the club the night after the murder. She is suspicious about the timing, even though Leo is friends with one of her bartenders, Danny. Vivian and Leo meet the night of the raid, and Vivian can't imagine that he is a killer. But that may be because he intrigues and attracts her.

One of the best parts of this book is the diversity of the characters. Vivian is bisexual, attracted to both Leo and Honor. She is Irish, and her best friend Bea is black. Danny, the bartender, is Asian. While we think about society as being very segmented in New York (and really, everywhere) in the 1920s, jazz clubs were one of the exceptions. There is a historical note at the end of the book, where Schellman shares more information on the jazz club scene in New York, and how people of different races, socioeconomic classes, and sexual preferences could intermingle in a way that wasn't possible anywhere else.

This is a great summer read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical mysteries. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy of this wonderful book.
Was this review helpful?
During the day Vivian works as a seamstress and escapes to a local speakeasy at night.  She enjoys the anonymity provided by the speakeasy and its patrons.  However, her favorite escape is embroiled in controversy when Vivian finds a men dead behind the speakeasy.  I was intrigued by the premise of a book taking place in the Prohibition Era.  Throw a murder mystery in and it sounds like perfection.  While I enjoyed this book I felt that the pace was a bit slower than anticipated.
Was this review helpful?
In 1920s New York, Vivian is a seamstress by day and a Charleston-dancing speakeasy partier by night. She feels at home at an underground dance parlor called the Nightingale, where no one cares if she flirts with men or women. But when she finds the body of who she thought was a nameless bootlegger behind the club, Vivian finds herself embroiled in a dangerous mystery.

I love the historical setting in this book, and it's clear that Katharine Schellman did her research about the Prohibition era! The Nightingale makes a perfect backdrop for a seedy mystery. The plot dragged at moments, but I was definitely intrigued by Vivian and her friends, and I look forward to finding out what trouble she gets herself into in the sequel.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the characters and setting, but because this is clearly meant to be a series there was a hefty (and almost unecessary) amount of worldbuilding.  Very interested to see the next iteration!
Was this review helpful?
To escape the life she hates, Vivian spends her nights dancing away her disappointments at the Nightingale, an underground club where cares vanish faster than the illegal liquor they serve. At the Nightingale no one cares who you are, what kind of family you come from or who you love as long as the band is playing, the dance floor is full and the champagne is chilled. But when Vivian stumbles upon a body in the back alley of the club her boring day to day life gets flipped on its head. Now she's being asked to dig into a world she knows nothing about, dodge dangerous criminals and keep herself safe from those who think she knows too much. I love reading about this era and lots of this book lived up to my expectations but some of Vivian's choices just left me plain puzzled. There is nothing really wrong with "Nightingale" however there isn't much memorable about it either. It's a good read but I wouldn't rush to add this historical fiction who-dun-it to any must read list. Might be a top hit for some just wasn't for me. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Vivian Kelly is a hardworking seamstress by day, just doing her best to get by in an unforgiving city in the 1920s. When night falls, she becomes a flirty flapper with an eye for sequined dresses, bootlegged champagne, and fellas who know their way around the dance floor. After unwittingly getting mixed up in a murder investigation, she quickly learns that there’s more danger to this speakeasy scene than she bargained for. 


Last Call at the Nightingale was a thrilling trip back to the roaring 20s, sure to delight fans of The Great Gatsby and mystery lovers alike. I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series! 

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for the complimentary advance copy of this work! Opinions expressed here are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Flapper-turns-sleuth after a murder at a speakeasy is nothing new in the Historical Mystery genre, but Katharine Schellman puts a fun and fresh spin on it here in Last Call at the Nightingale. 

I’ve enjoyed Schellman’s other mysteries and was eager to see what she would do with a new protagonist and setting, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

The Jazz Age is terrific for setting and atmosphere of the writer knows how to use it properly, and Schellman proves that in spades here, taking a standard whodunit and dressing it up in all of its Prohibition Era finest. 

Plucky but understated heroine Vivian is easy to root for, and she’s surrounded by a solid cast of secondary characters. Schellman weaves their stories together in a plot more intricate than what we usually get in this subgenre, keeping the pacing of the story compelling and giving us a satisfying ending to a layered mystery. 

Though Vivian is pretty much all hero, some of the more nuanced secondary characters keep it interesting with their actions. I was particularly impressed by how Honor’s character revealed itself, and by how Vivian decides to handle her and all the moral grey area plot threads that surround her.
Was this review helpful?
The Last Call of the Nightingale is a new mystery series set during the Jazz Age. The story tells of how Vivian and her friend Bea find a dead man in the alleyway. I like Vivian. She seems very hardworking and curious. I like how she conducts her investigations. I also like Vivian’s friendship with Bea and the sisterhood between Vivian and her sister. The story is very well-written! The author does an excellent job in making the Jazz Age come alive! I also thought the mystery was very well-done! This was a light and cozy mystery that seems to be a promising series! I recommend this for fans of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons, Murphy’s Law, and Murder at the Breakers!
Was this review helpful?
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
Was this review helpful?