Cover Image: Last Call at the Nightingale

Last Call at the Nightingale

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Member Reviews

Thank you for the advanced copy of this book! I will be posting my review on social media, to include Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, and Instagram!
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In 1924 booze and murder were both illegal, but that didn’t stop the drinking or killing. Vivian is a hardworking seamstress by day and a gal that loves a dance and a drink at The Nightingale, an illegal gin joint when the sun goes down. Stepping out in the alley for a breath of air, Vivian and friend Bea see a passed out drunk among the trash. Vivian tries to help the man, but realizes he has not passed out, but has passed on. He is dead. Not only dead, murdered.

Vivian can’t stop thinking of the dead man. She has to find out what happened to him. Her sister Florence doesn’t approve of Vivian’s activities. She has practically raised Vivian after they ended up in an orphanage when they were very young. She thinks Vivian needs to stay home at night and work hard. They are barely scraping by as it is.

When the owner of the bar, Honor Huxley, asks Vivian to help find the murderer. At first Vivian doesn’t agree to become an amateur gumshoe. But curiosity gets the better of her and she begins investigating. Unfortunately, some very bad guys get wind of her poking her nose into other people’s business and are hellbent to stop her. She is over her head in trouble, but still insists she will find out who and murdered the man in the alley and why. But at what cost?

This cozy mystery is different than others as it is set in the early 1900’s with the lead character doing something illegal. Oftentimes cozies have a connection to law enforcement, a boyfriend or close relative they can rely on for clues. Vivian is on her own, with the bouncers at the speakeasy and her friends as the only backup. I loved the setting and characters. The whole package of setting, characters and situations was interesting and entertaining. I hope there are many more in this series.

This is the first book I’ve read by Katharine Schellman. She was a political consultant and stage performer, and lucky for readers, she writes stories. Her debut novel, The Body in the Garden, is a historical mystery and was named a Suspense Magazine Best Book of 2022. Last Call at the Nightingale is the first book in Nightingale Mysteries Series. I cannot wait to read the next book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the Author and Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2022 Laura Hartman
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I love historical fiction but don't typically escape to the prohibition era. This novel transported me back in time and placed me dead centre in a mystery I wanted to unravel while I pictured girls in sequined tassled gowns dancing to a beautiful jazz medley. There was so much story aside from just the whodunit that created a full, lush picture of young people trying to safely find their place and identity.
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Thank you Netgally for this arc! I sadly had to DNF  this book, I had really high hopes, but I couldn't really get into it. I might try again later, but I just couldn't get into it. I loved the premise of this historical fantasy, but when I started the book, it just didn't feel right to start it and I couldn't get into the writing style.
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This was a good murder mystery in that I was very surprised to find out the identity of the murderer.  The storyline, however, did not keep my attention.  I appreciated Vivian's confidence, strength, and her ability to keep pursuing justice even when she was afraid.  She really knew who she was and she never lost sight of that.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The Nightingale is a speakeasy that welcomes everyone.  The staff is racially and sexually diverse; the customers range from gangsters to shop-girls.  Vivian is a seamstress by day, and dancer by night.   I enjoyed the New York City, Prohibition era setting, but didn't really get drawn in by the main characters of this one.

Still, it was a enjoyable amateur sleuth murder mystery.  (And I totally loved the cover!)

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Last Call at the Nighingale was the perfect blend of mystery and historical fiction--my favorite kind of book. The story tells the tale of Vivian who spends her nights in a speakeasy and her days making dresses. She hates the dull, no-where-going life she must lead, but when she stumbles across a dead body...her life gets way more exciting than she ever hoped. Filled with commentary about the 20s, a little bit of romance, and a lot of adventure, this was a great read. Looking forward to a sequel.
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There is so much I need to say about this book and I hope I have the ability to do this book justice with my review. First and foremost, this cover is stunning and aesthetically pleasing. I was instantly intrigued and needed to know more. After reading the brief synopsis, I knew that I needed this book and there was no way I could wait until it was published . I crossed my fingers, said a silent prayer to the Netgalley fairies and hit "request" . 

Big thank you to Netgalley, Katharine Schellman and Minotaur Books for allowing me the opportunity to read and review Last Call at the Nightingale and approving my request, y'all rock! 

The sexy vibe was sprinkled throughout the entire book. The jazz spin was done exceptionally well and the narration was done with perfection. This is a book that will have people talking long after concluding and would be a great choice for a book club pick. 

I loved all of the secrets that were brought to light, the deceit was juicy and kept my attention. Once I started, there was no way I was putting this down and I instantly became addicted to each page I flipped. The characters are multi dimensional, some you will love and others you will love to hate, either way, they became very real. 

Last Call at the Nightingale, easily swung itself into my list of favored books for 2022 and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story circulating around a murder mystery.
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LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTINGALE transports readers to Jazz Age New York City where the drinks freely flow, the dance floor is fast and congested, and your wealth or background does not matter.  Full of atmospheric period details and engaging characters, I could not put this historical mystery down.

Vivian is an Irish orphan, a seamstress struggling to make ends meet.  But, at night, she comes alive dancing, drinking, and hobnobbing at The Nightingale.  Be it the dangerous clandestine nature of defying Prohibition or just that it is an escape from the daily drudgery, she loves it, making new friends and whiling away countless hours.  Things change when Viv and her best friend, waitress Bea, discover a murdered man behind the club.  This moment changes Viv’s life forever and leads her down a dangerous path.

I really enjoyed my time spent with Viv.  There is a surprisingly diverse cast of characters at The Nightingale, and I savored getting to know them.  I appreciate Viv’s grit and determination, and like Bea, bartender Danny, and bootlegger Leo very much.  These are complex, well drawn characters with flaws and dreams of their own.  The story feels authentic.

The murder mystery is compelling and dangerous enough to keep me on my toes.  There are plenty of clues and red herrings, twists and turns to keep readers engaged.  The killer’s identity is not necessarily a big surprise, but the motive is a doozy.

I do hope there will be more books featuring Vivian.  I recommend LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTINGALE to any historical/traditional mystery fan.

I received an ARC of this title from Minotaur Books and voluntarily shared my thoughts here. #NetGalley #LastCallattheNightingale
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4 out of 5 stars - If you ask me, I'll tell you to read it.

I really enjoyed this little trip into the underworld of speakeasies in the 1920s.  The characters were diverse and the story was good.
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3.5 stars.
Orphaned sisters Florence and Vivian Kelly live small, hard lives, working for poor wages and long hours for a small-minded and judgmental seamstress. They live together in a small apartment, and Vivian craves a bigger, better life, so she spends her nights dancing at the Nightingale Lounge/speakeasy. 

Vivian finds the proprietress, Honor Huxley, attractive (the attraction is clearly mutual between the two women), and Vivian also finds various men at the lounge attractive, and hopes to find her way to her better life through a relationship/marriage to one of them.

One night, Vivian comes across the dead body of a man in the alley behind the bar. This incident starts Vivian questioning various regulars, as well digging into the life of the dead man, who it turns out was fairly unsavoury and involved in shady dealings.

Vivian gets threatened and roughed up. She also begins a romance with Leo, a new regular at the Nightingale, and whom Honor mistrusts, getting Vivian try to dig up info on him. Also, tensions keep rising between Vivian and Florence, as Florence worries incessantly about her younger sister, and the harm she could come to by spending each night at the speakeasy.

I liked this. I was a little confused about the relationships, whether business or romantic, amongst some of the characters, but liked how despite getting pushback and threats, Vivian kept digging into the murdered man’s background till she determined the important connections between him and someone she knew through the Nightingale.

I like the feel of this time period New York, and how the Nightingale is a haven for Honor and her bartender, Danny Chin, neither of whom conform to public expectations of respectability. It’s also an intersection between different types of people: young women desperate for unconventional opportunities, young, bored and rich people flouting rules, criminals involved in bootlegging, and people possibly of different sexualities.

I really appreciated how Vivian took advantage of the situations she was thrown into, and even managed to come to better arrangements professionally for herself, Florence and her best friend, Bea, one of the bar’s waitresses. I liked where and who Vivian was by the end: clearer on what she wanted, and less naïve about those around her, and bolder. 

Thank you to Netgalley and to St. Martin’s Press for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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A murder mystery centering around a New York speakeasy during prohibition sounded like a book I definitely needed to read.  Vivian Kelly spends her days working at a dress shop and her nights dancing for hours at the Nightingale.  So when she discovers the body of a man in the alley behind the Nightingale, which is followed by police raid that may put everything she loves about the Nightingale in jeopardy, Vivian has to investigate the murder and find out who is behind it.  

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book, but felt like some portions of the book could have been tightened up a little.  The interactions between Vivian and her sister at times felt like it was the same conversation over and over about Vivian going out and her sister disliking it.  I know that it is important to the storyline, but just felt those interactions could have been slightly shorter.  I liked Vivian's character and it was fun to read about a strong woman during that time period.  

Overall, it was an enjoyable read full of memorable diverse characters.  I received this book through NetGalley courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a great read by Katharine Schellman.  This author delivered a great mystery that was truly a page turner.  I loved the back and forth between two very different characters.  This was a new author for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Looking forward to the next one from this author.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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