Cover Image: Last Call at the Nightingale

Last Call at the Nightingale

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I loved the setting of this book. It took place in New York in 1924 and followed Vivian through her days working as a seamstress and her wild and crazy nights at The Nightingale during the prohibition era. It was fun to imagine them all having a blast and dancing together and I could picture it all! 

Everything changes when a body is found and that's when the book really starts getting interesting! I don't want to say much more as you should go in this as blind as possible. I loved discovering all the secrets and watching everything unfold. It did drag on for a me a little in the middle, but the ending definitely picked up and made up for it. 

I think this will be a big hit for a lot of people. Thank you so much to St Martin's Press for the chance to read to this book prior to release. This will be available for purchase on June 7th.
Was this review helpful?
I really, really liked this book. Ms. Schellman is a very talented writer and she captures the sights, sounds and  atmospheres of New York’s 1920’s working class neighborhoods and speakeasies in a novel that is clearly well-researched. Her story contains a wonderful blend of characters from all walks of life who are the literal representation of the Melting Pot and she does a beautiful job of bringing them to life and making the interpersonal dynamics feel very real. Ms. Schellman doesn’t flinch from the harsh brutality and ugliness that was a large part of that landscape, but she also captures the joys and freedoms found in dancing and alcohol during the Prohibition Era. Perhaps best of all, she writes with contemporary sensitivities:  it’s the female, not male, characters of the story who are the movers and drivers behind the action. The story is well-structured and well-paced, the layers gradually unfolding like an onion.  Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my Advance Reader Copy!
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I *did* enjoy it, and I'm grateful that the publisher allowed me access to an early copy on Netgalley (two, actually! Audiobook and ebook!), but something just never quite clicked over to love for me. I really liked the writing. Vivian was a great character (and definite bonus points for bisexual representation). But at times the mystery parts seemed tacked on and unnecessary. The nightclub, the people who went there, Honor, etc, they were all much more fascinating than the body in the alley. In fact, I wish the book had been from Honor's point of view (in fact, that might help explain why she handpicked Vivian to be her eyes and ears, which wasn't a plot hole, just something I found odd. Maybe she just found her pretty...?)

All that said, it was a solid read, and I will definitely read more of Katharine Schellman in the future.
Was this review helpful?
Vivian Kelly is a seamstress that lives with her straight laced sister Florence during The Prohibition Jazz Age of 1924.  Vivian likes to go to The Nightingale Club to dance at night,escape, and have some fun.  However one night, Vivian discovers a dead body and her curiosity and involvement gets her involved with a nasty group.of characters which also.gets into a back story about her mother.

This book was just ok for me.  Great description of the characters and setting to make you feel you were there.  I found Vivian a bit of a busy body not listening to anyone concerned for her safety.   I wish there was more back.stories and character development for Leo. Danny and Honor. .Decent read bur I wasn't wowed.

My thanks to Net Galley and St Martin s Press for this advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. The views expressed are entirely my own. 

I'm waffling between a 3 and a 3.5 for this one.

The setting of this book is done beautifully. Schellman is a master at making a reader feel as if they are right there in the thrill of it with the character.  Her plot is well crafted, and I love her side characters. There are a lot of them, but I felt like they were all distinct with lives that are full and well-rounded. (Honestly, I wanted more of their stories, and I hope they get fleshed out even more in the future.) 

I do feel like the pace was slow in the middle. It started out with a literal bang, and near the end I was fully absorbed. But the middle....it dragged a bit for me. 

I also wished that the backstory, if there was any, between Vivian and Honor was fleshed out more. Is Vivian a fun time? Sure. But what is it about her that has caught Honor's eye? What makes her stand out from all the other girls who flicker in and out of the club? I'm not sure if I knew, so their relationship wasn't one I could buy into.
Was this review helpful?
A quick and enjoyable read. I wish the characters had been more fully realized, but it looks as if this is to be the first of a series, so perhaps over time...
Was this review helpful?
When the publisher included the first several chapters of this book in a sampler several months ago I knew I had to read the whole book, and thanks to NetGalley I’ve been able to get an advance copy.
When Vivian and her friend Bea discover the well dressed body of a murdered man in the back alley of a Prohibition era speakeasy Viv quickly finds herself in trouble. Torn between just walking away, or helping the owner by gathering information as to the possible killer, Viv decides the dancehall is worth fighting for, it’s the only joy after working all day for little pay as a seamstress. The characters are a mixed group in many ways, ethnicity, sexual preferences, and financial status, Viv finds a way to bridge them all. The author paints vivid pictures of the scenes, the depressing tenements, the sparkling music and dance, the homes of the wealthy Viv makes deliveries  to. Vivian’s relationships are well written too, the strained distance with her sister, her love of Bea and her mother, the tension between she and Hux, and a budding romance all make her character come alive.
I’m hoping this is the start of a series, I would love to know how the story goes on. I’m normally more of a police procedural mystery fan, but Last Call at the Nightingale has won me over.
Was this review helpful?
Loved the characters in this one- a jazzy mystery set in a club called the Nightengale. When a body is discovered in the alley one night - it suddenly puts Vicen who dances at the underground club into danger. There is a police raid that brings her to the attention of the club owner who asks for a favor that she cannot deny accepting. Well written and fun - this story zipped by bubbling with the sound of jazz
Was this review helpful?
Last Call at the Nightingale, a riveting story—well-written, beautifully crafted, and brilliantly imagined.

I’d heard a lot of good things about Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman, which made me eager to read it even though historical mysteries aren’t my usual forte. But now that I’ve read it, I’m happy I did. Schellman introduced us to an engaging lead in Vivian Kelly and I liked the surprising and intriguing support cast we meet and hope to see again from this novel advertised as the first in a series—Vivian’s sister Florence, her best friend Beatrice, her friend Danny, love interest Leo, and Honor Huxley, owner of the speakeasy called the Nightingale.

There’s a backstory and baggage in relation to the Kelly sister’s dead mother and absent father, but it informs rather than overwhelms the story unfolding here which gives the reader a nice balance of the crime-at-hand and the usual personal stuff impacting on the character’s lives—particularly that of Vivian Kelly.

We get a murder close to the very start, which is how the best crime fiction novels begin, and that gets coincidentally linked to Vivian when she and Beatrice discover a dead man in the alley behind the Nightingale. Beatrice works at the jazz club as a waitress and it’s where Vivian goes almost every night to enjoy a brief respite from her hand-to-mouth existence and the grind of her day job as an underpaid seamstress.

The story takes place in New York City in 1924, during Prohibition, a time when speakeasies flourished and bootleg alcohol flowed freely. Honor Huxley, who makes it her business to know where all the bodies are buried, eventually presses Vivian into trying to identify the killer of the man found dead in the alley, and somewhat reluctantly at first, Vivian plays the role of an amateur sleuth in the endeavor. That, of course, places her in all manner of personal danger, and the fallout even spills over and splashes onto her sister Flo before it’s all said and done.

Reading Last Call at the Nightingale often made me think of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, although this book focuses more on the circumstances of the poor, downtrodden, and marginalized minorities of the twenties than the uber wealthy. Still, there were comparisons I easily drew, and Schellman effectively presents to us the social stratification that existed between the haves and have-nots during The Roaring Twenties, a period of rapid economic growth and social change.

Schellman’s fanciful imprinting of the elements of 2020s wokeness culture on The Roaring Twenties seems a bit farfetched, but at the same time, the slight departure into historical revisionism adds depth and interest to this fictional tale. I suppose many find it empowering and take comfort in imagining facets of purely modern culture and contemporary social constructs they embrace to have a long history in society, even when they do not.

Overall, I found Last Call at the Nightingale a riveting story—well-written, beautifully crafted, and brilliantly imagined. Schellman is a talented writer who keeps the pages turning and I’m eager to read more of her work.
Was this review helpful?
hanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
A Jazz age/ Roaring twenties murder mystery with well drawn personalities, mostly all just trying to get through the night...Atmospheric descriptions of the speakeasy, the tenements, the grand homes add to the story. An enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
The cover and title caught my eye and intrigued me right from the start. Once I read the synopsis I couldn't wait to read this book. Wow, I was not disappointed at all! I loved every second and could not put it down. This is the perfect murder mystery! I loved that it took place in the 20's and a could envision myself in the Nightingale dancing away. I am looking forward to reading more from this author. I highly recommend it!
Was this review helpful?
Vivian Kelly is a poor seamstress just trying to have some fun dancing at nights at an underground club. The Nightingale is a secretive, no questions asked, and what’s the code type of place. After all, this book does take place during the prohibition. As the music ebbs and the liquor flows, Vivian realizes there’s a raid happening. After getting caught, she owns the matron money….but how is she going to pay off that debt? This “who dunnit” mystery had such a captivating setting, a cool cast of characters, and some highly seedy characters. How many people will wind up dead by the last page? Cheers!
Was this review helpful?
I was really looking forward to this one. I enjoy cozy mysteries and the Jazz Age angle seemed like it would be a fun and novel setting but somehow I just never connected with the characters the way I'd hoped i would. 

There were a few bright spots at the  Nightingale - primarily the owner Hux, and head bartender Danny Chin - and I wanted a lot more of their characters than the story provided. While I found protagonist Vivian's relationships with her sister and Bea interesting for a time,  they weren't enough to hold the story together as none of the three of them really jumped off the page the way Hux and Danny did for me. I found the murder mystery elements a bit underwhelming and the whole thing moved slower than I wanted it to... 

This one wasn't a good fit for me - it felt more like traditional historical fiction than a mystery, with much more emphasis on stage settimg than on plotting and revelations. Perhaps if I'd been reading it for the former rather than the latter I would have had a better time with it, but it left my desire for a cozy mystery a bit more unfulfilled than I wanted - or expected - based on its billing...
Was this review helpful?
This mystery is filled with all the familiar Jazz Age signifiers- champagne, speakeasies, fashion, etc. - but it also shows all the grit beneath the glimmer. Vivian Kelly escapes to the Nightingale for evenings filled with dancing and a bit of escapist fun from her day to day life in which she and her sister are barely scraping by as seamstresses. A dead body, though, launches Vivian into a whole new world of danger and secrets. With lots of interesting and well researched representation, this series starter is excellent.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley, and Minotaur books for access to an eARC for an honest review. 

This was such a solid book for me. It personally took me a few days to really dive in due to this being my first eBook I've read for pleasure, however once I started I quickly devoured the rest of the story. 

Set in 1920s New York City, is a perspective I have yet to read before, a queer murder mystery. Vivian Kelly just wants to enjoy her time dancing at The Nightingale, a speakeasy during Prohibition. But her fun nights at the jazz club are suddenly upturned when she and her friend find a dead man in the alley outside the club. Vivian is tasked with finding information on a handsome newcomer, Leo Green, who suddenly begins showing up the night after the murder, by the female club owner, Honor Huxley, that has taken a shine to Vivian in more ways than professional. Vivian struggles to balance her home life (with her prudish sister, Florence, who disapproves of Vivian’s nightlife), her work life (a view into a 1920’s young woman’s career options), her nightlife (The Nightingale was open to all, regardless of wealth, class, race or sexual orientation—and the reader is able to see Vivian sort through the feelings she develops for both Leo and Honor) and this new job of trying to gather the puzzle pieces of who was involved with the murder of Willard Wilson.

I found the scenes between the sisters to be the most compelling. While not completely opposite from each other, Florence is shocked and dismayed at Vivian’s lifestyle, the late nights at the illegal jazz club. In my opinion however, it was their love for each other that drives them both, and in the end that love is what drives Vivian to make her choices, not the tension between Viv and Leo or Viv and Honor. I wish that there was more time given to fully flush out the sisters’ relationship, or at least dive more deeply into Florence's background.

I think this would be a great book for high schoolers and up to read. There is some violence (Vivian is involved in a couple altercations) and some light gore (dead body, a man dying after being shot), and implications of child sexual abuse. There is some sexual tension, but no actual scenes depicting sex acts. I believe high school and up would be an appropriate audience.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book! I actually found it quite difficult to put down. I loved the characters and the storyline, and highly recommend it to lovers of all genres.
Was this review helpful?
I love any book set in the roaring '20s, and this book has it all. Murder, mystery, romance, all set during the prohibition era.
Was this review helpful?
I don't read much historical fiction, but I will dive right in to a book set in the roaring 20's. I was instantly transported to this time with the author's clear writing and her grasp of this time period. The mystery was easy to solve. I more enjoyed the characters' lives and how they related to one another.
Was this review helpful?
Prohibition, amateur-sleuth, NYC, multicultural, murder, murder-investigation, mystery, thriller, threats, 1924, seamstress, suspense, bootlegging, LGBTQIA, class-consciousness, dancing, historical-novel, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-setting, history-and-culture*****

When is a dance club more than a dance club? When it is a Speakeasy.
Life was going okay for Vivian an Irish orphan living in a NYC tenement with her sister, working as a seamstress during the day and loving her minimal pay job at a dance club at night. Until she and a coworker stumble upon a dead man with expensive attire. Then she begins to learn how to be a sleuth.
Many interesting, engaging, and diverse characters populate this unusual whodunit. The plot moves along smoothly and swiftly with some really fascinating twists and red herrings. I loved it!
I requested and received a free e-book copy from St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
Was this review helpful?
<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Vivian Kelly is a seamstress by day, an Irish orphan in the New York City of the mid-1920s. By night she dances her cares away at the Nightingale, a speakeasy that serves a mixed clientele in race, class, and sexuality. Her sister wishes she'd stay on the right side of the law, but the Nightingale is Viv's haven from a world that doesn't much care what happens to women like her...until she and her best friend Bea find a dead body in the alley.</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>The corpse looks only vaguely familiar, but the Nightingale's owner wants Viv to help find out what's going on--especially after the club gets raided. She's not exactly <em>happy</em> to help, but she wants the Nightingale--and her friends who work there--to be safe, and her work gives her an excuse to fit clothes for the primary bereaved. <em>And</em> the interesting new man hanging around the club might have something to do with it all, but is it on the side of angels? Viv is highly motivated to find out. The dead man's associates are providing a little...extra motivation of their own, and it is not always on the positive side, so Viv had better figure things out, fast.</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>This was a fun, easy reading mystery with lots of dancing to jazz, lots of cocktails, lots of flirting and friendship and sisterhood. Schellman's notes after the book point out that she researched when the title Ms. was used (earlier than one might think!), whether there were Black and Irish girls living two blocks away from each other in NYC at the time (yes!), whether all the races and ethnicities she portrayed would be mixing at some types of speakeasy (absolutely!), and so on--I suspect that the fact that this is written as a fast-paced mystery rather than a footnoted treatise may be what trips up those readers who want to argue those points. (Certainly we can agree that the past was diverse, we just can't enjoy it that way?) This one isn't for them. It may well be for you, though.</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->
Was this review helpful?