Cover Image: Last Call at the Nightingale

Last Call at the Nightingale

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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
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One Sentence Summary: When Vivian accidentally spots a dead body in the alley outside her favorite speakeasy, everyone starts to think she knows more than she does, leading her straight into danger.

Overall
Last Call at the Nightingale is the first in a Jazz Age mystery series. It nicely sets up the world as being both full of diversity and full of societal divides, but I wish more of the times had made it into the way the characters spoke. The mystery was slow to start, but ended up being nicely layered without being too weighty and twisty. I also liked Vivian’s back and forth on whether to investigate or not. It was a great introduction to her and the series and I appreciated how she’s smart, but also values self-preservation. The character diversity was my favorite part and it was such a surprise at how much there is. I also adored the main characters and those around them and really loved getting a close knit feeling of the Nightingale. Overall, it’s fun and fairly quick, but I wished for the kind of world building that just dumped me into 1920s NYC.

Extended Thoughts
It’s 1924 in NYC and Vivian Kelly and her older sister Florence are just scraping by as dressmakers. While Florence lives an upstanding life, with long hair, long skirts, and no alcohol, Vivian escapes the drudgery of her daily life by spending her nights at the Nightingale, a speakeasy where socialites mingle with working girls, men can dance with men, and women can kiss other women. Her best friend Bea is a young black woman working there as a waitress and, one night, they stumble on a body in the alley. Bea wants nothing to do with it, but, when Vivian is picked up during a police raid, she ends up owing a favor to the woman who bailed her out: Honor Huxley, the owner of the Nightingale.

Honor wants Vivian to keep an eye on a man who showed up the night after the dead body, a man with secrets who also happens to be sweet on Vivian. While Vivian would rather keep out of it, danger follows her as too many coincidental meetings start to occur and everyone starts to think she knows more than she actually does.

I am not a big fan of historical novels, but I do have a soft spot for the Jazz Age. As a Jazz Age novel, Last Call at the Nightingale took me in and out of the time, but I enjoyed the setting and loved all the diversity. There were some fun intersecting layers in this mystery, but sometimes I felt like things were too coincidental or just didn’t link up well. The characters, though, stole the show for me. I really liked the exploration of the lower and upper classes, but the romance felt like it was building up to something that never materialized and then felt like everything was back to square one. Overall, though, it was a fun, quick read, but not particularly evocative of the Jazz Age.

Last Call at the Nightingale is the first in a new Jazz Age mystery series. It’s fast-paced once the slow starts wears off and Vivian seems to run into trouble at every turn. I liked how layered the mystery was with so many players who revolved around each other engaging in an intriguing dance, but sometimes I felt like characters and sub plots were thrown in either for more interest or to make the novel longer. As a mystery, it had the twists and turns with characters who seemed to be playing multiple sides, but I felt the conclusion was a little too low-key and too easily swept under the rug. As a mystery to get Vivian started, I thought it was perfect considering Vivian is just a young woman who toils six days a week making dresses for socialites. Otherwise it’s slow to get started despite the dead body appearing early on, and the pieces Vivian just abruptly puts together caused a little bit of whiplash.

Vivian was an intriguing character. She’s a working girl just trying to get by, but who wants more for herself. I loved her enthusiasm for living a good life, for having fun whenever she can. She’s a flirt who doesn’t discriminate between men and women and just wants a respite from her daily life. She’s also very smart, but has a self-preservation streak and a strong duty to protect her sister no matter how much she and Florence butt heads. Speaking of Florence, I loved her. She’s the responsible older sister, though she still has dreams of her own. Her duty to Vivian, though, always comes first and, while she doesn’t approve of what Vivian does, she knows she can’t stop her sister, but tries instead to protect them as best she can. I loved the relationship between the sisters. They’re all they’ve got since their mother died when they were young, but they’re basically two sides of the coin. Where one is uptight and responsible, the other is loose and carefree.

My favorite part of Last Call at the Nightingale, though, was all the diversity. Vivian’s best friend is black and Vivian and Florence regularly spend time with Bea’s family. I loved how close Vivian and Bea are, but, as the story wore on, I felt like Bea faded into the background to make room for Leo, one of Vivian’s love interests. I liked how Bea kept her head and was always there for Vivian, but I wish there had been more of her. Then there’s the atmosphere of the Nightingale itself. It’s a safe place for the LGBTQ community, and Vivian is right at home as she’s torn between Honor and Leo, but can also be found flirting and dancing with other men and women. Then there’s the bartender, Danny, who is Chinese and such an amazing help to both Vivian and Honor. I never was quite able to pin him down, but he’s clearly loyal to Honor and has a fantastic sense of duty. I loved the diversity and how it never phased the main characters, but they were also careful about appearances in the light of day.

Set in the 1920s in NYC, I loved the duality of society. During the day, the socialites and working people kept to their own parts of the city and people of different ethnicities kept to their own areas. There seemed to be dividing lines and it was strange to see someone who didn’t belong wandering around. At night, all those barriers came down in the speakeasies. I really enjoyed seeing Vivian at the Nightingale, clearly flirting and dancing and socializing with people of all backgrounds, and then she would meet them during the day and those divides are back in place. It was sometimes startling, but I felt like it was the best part of the world building. There were a lot of little things that spoke of this being set during the 1920s, like the working conditions and how far a quarter could get someone, the fact that Vivian always had to have a good pair of stockings, the rampant smoking. But, especially when it came to the way the characters spoke, I struggled to hear that Jazz Age voice. None of the slang of the times, as far as I could tell, other than the pet names, seemed to make it into the characters’ speech, so I often struggled with remembering this is a Jazz Age novel. I wish the sense of time had been strong and really played up, but I did appreciate the small details.

Last Call at the Nightingale was a fun, quick read despite the slow start and my struggles with really feeling like it was dropping me into the 1920s. I adored the characters and the diversity, but the romance seriously left me wanting and I felt like zero progress had been made other than utterly confuse Vivian. But Florence had a lovely character arc and I liked that I couldn’t always figure out all the characters and their motivations. I enjoyed this mystery, though there were a few things I struggled with.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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It's always exciting to read historical fiction that is a little bit different from the historical fiction that seems to be published these days (WWII stories). The Roaring Twenties/Prohibition is a time period that is untapped in this genre. This book is perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams' The Wicked RedHead series.
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I have to say this book has fabulous descriptions!  It really made me feel like I was in the underground dance club right next to the characters. It does a great job in capturing NYC 1924, language and all. 1920’s atmosphere oozes with the jazz band in the background and the  prohibition.  This was such a fun old fashioned mystery and I can't wait to read more from this author..
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Vivian Kelly works in a dress shop and lives in a tenement with her sister, Florence. Her days are long and boring and dreary, but at night she comes alive at The Nightingale, a speakeasy where she dances and flirts with men and women and escapes from the drudgery of her life. One night she finds a dead man in an alley behind the bar and finds herself involved in a dangerous investigation.

I love any book set in the Prohibition Era — add some murder, and I’m sold. I really liked how this story portrayed the life of a working class (bordering on destitute) young woman and showed how important this place to escape was to her. It seems like most books about speakeasies tend to focus on the wealthy, glamorous people or the mobsters and not on the average patron. The consequences for getting caught were so much higher for Vivian, so it was extremely risky for her to go out every night, but she did it anyway. The pacing was a little slow for me, but the writing was lovely, and I could really picture myself in the club with the characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
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I love books set in New York city in the 1920's. Something about it feels modern and historical at the same time. You can sense the world changing amid the glittering nightlife. Katherine Schellman does a great job at conveying everything I like about the era and working it nicely into a mystery, story and characters that you want to learn more about. I look forward to the possibility of more books at The Nightingale and getting to know Vivian some more. 

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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need to preface this review with this: I love this author and her other series [Lily Adler] and was excited to see that she had written a new series and was even more excited to be accepted for an ARC. It makes the rest of the review a little harder to write. 

For the most part, I liked this book. There were issues, but I am attributing that to it being a new series with dramatically different characters than her other series. There were moments of real brilliance and Vivian is a fantastic MC. Unfortunately, there are moments where this really drags and the mystery really wasn't as fleshed out as it could have been [too many inconsequential characters that could have been culled in exchange for richer character development amongst the ones that truly matter to the story]. I would classify this more as plain HF rather than HM, but there IS a mystery so here we are. I do hope if there is a next one [that I will be first in line to read], that the mystery will be fleshed out more, now that we have the backstories of most of the main characters in the book - I can see these being 5 star books with some simple changes. 
 
The supporting characters are some of the best written [I disliked Honor, but I am not sure if you are supposed to like her, and some of the dislike might have come from the narration as well] and the diversity among them is also some of the best I have seen. I like how they support each other and look out for each other and know that they are family, regardless of the color of their skin or orientation. That part of the book felt the most honest and real of the whole story. Vivian has moxie and her chutzpah helps her to both solve the mystery without dying [always a good thing] AND make things better for herself, her sister, and her chosen family.  

Even though I didn't love this book [though I did love Vivian and I liked the red herrings that were thrown in - not all of them were obvious thankfully], I am glad I read it as I can see this being a really fantastic series and I would absolutely read a second one. Vivian and Co. are just too great of characters to leave them after one book. 

I was also granted a audiobook ARC for this and this might be why I had some issues with the book. I find that narration really sets the tone and this narration was...not great. By no means was the worse that I have ever heard, but it was also not the best. Even though the narrator doesn't really do "voices" [and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that - so many try and fail at that] and just reads the story [which again is glorious], her voice tends to go flat and emotionless, especially in times of heightened action and you are left feeling MEH over what just happened. There were several moments where I intellectually knew I should be on the edge of my seat, but my brain wouldn't let it happen because of the bland delivery. It caused major frustration more than once while listening to this book. If it was just a regular part of the story, it really wasn't that bad and I didn't mind her at all, but when action happened, it was just not okay. It ended up being very disappointing. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Katharine Schellman, Sara Young - Narrator, St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books, and Dreamscape Media for providing  the ARC and audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Last Call at the Nightingale was an enjoyable book to read about the roaring 20;s and what it was like for many females in the Roaring 20’s. You will like Vivian.  She’s an easy character to follow and understand.  This is the first book I’ve read by Katharine Schellman and I would definitely read her again.  

Thank you to #netgalley and #stmartin’spress for allowing me to read the eARC of this book.  All opinions expressed above are ;my own.
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I enjoyed this one. It’s not a perfect book, but it kept my attention from the beginning. I like that Vivian wants to be the strong, unflappable new woman, but she’s not quite there yet, so she gets scared and sheds tears and becomes exhausted. But she pushes through because she’s so close to becoming the woman she wants to be. I look forward to seeing what happens next in this world the author created.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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4.5 Rounded Down. I enjoyed reading this book.  There is a mystery in the book and I did not guess how the mystery was going to be solved - the author did a great job of keeping the reader guessing.  The pace of the book was ideal for me - I didn't necessarily want to devour it in one sitting but I wanted to pick it up and read whenever I had a chance.  There was plenty of action and different aspects to the book so while the main story is about the mystery there were also other things happening that helped the reader understand the different characters.  I thought the author was very good at drawing a picture for the reader to envision what things looked like - for instance inside the Nightingale and Florence and Vivian's apartment, etc.  

I found the characters in the book well defined.  I felt what they were feeling and since the book is set in a time I was not familiar with, I thought the author did a great job of letting you know what it felt like - for two single women working as seamstresses, employees in a speakeasy, etc.  

What I liked about the book - the mystery, the anticipation of what was going to happen next, the totally unexpected solution to the mystery, the definition of the characters.  

There's not really anything I would change about the book - in the beginning of some of the characters coming into the story I wondered about their back story but you learn a lot of that as the book continues so I was satisfied.
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4.5 for the Nightingale!

A Big Thank You to Minotaur Publishing and NetGalley for an e ARC of Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman. I loved this book! Set in the 1920's, Nightingale explores the mysterious murder of a big-time bootlegger with other shady activities going on... .and a whole lot of people want him dead! The inquisitive main character will stop at nothing to find the killer, which often puts her in precarious positions. I loved the character of Vivian. She was smart, plucky, curious and a great dancer! I could be biased- I adore stories set in the 1920's. The author captured the vibe of that time period so well. I felt like I was dancing at The Nightingale ( a speakeasy) with a tall drink of water myself! I'm  so excited to read the next book coming out in this series. This was a  great ride and a great read!

#NetGalley
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