★Nominate for LibraryReads List★
#1 Teen & Young Adult Careers, Fiction
#1 Teen & Young Adult Music Books
#1 Teen & Young Adult US 20th Century Historical Fiction Books
#1 Teen & Young Adult Civi & Human Rights Issues
“This sparkling series starter delivers a confounding mystery, authentic historical details, and a spirited journalist . . . wonderfully cinematic scenes that vividly evoke Roaring ‘20s Hollywood. The mystery itself is complex and satisfyingly resolved.”
The Roaring Twenties. A ghastly murder. A failing family newspaper business. What more could lure Katharine Ann March into playing hooky and risk missing her own high school graduation?
As a budding reporter and amateur slew, Kate has the audacity to, not only wear boy’s clothing, but to trespass into the male habitat of the newspaper business. While her best friend, Addy, prefers they go Modern by becoming flappers, Kate set her sights on saving the family newspaper by plunging headfirst into the most sensational murder scene in Hollywood history.
Famed film director, William Desmond Taylor, has been shot in the back, and Kate has the inside scoop. Her dear friend and famous film star, Mary Miles Minter, fancied herself in love with Mr. Taylor. With Mary’s help, Kate is set to bring a new angle to the story. Easy peasy. But not so fast.
Suspicious, late-night visits to Taylor’s home, drug connections, false identities, and family secrets prompt Kate to try and solve the murder herself, much to the annoyance of the Los Angeles Police Department.
And then something wholly unexpected captures Kate’s attention; her neighbor and childhood friend, Nicky Masino, has returned from the Great War no longer the boy she once knew. Mysterious and explosive, Nicky is haunted by his past. After joining the LAPD, Nicky warns Kate to stay away from the Taylor murder case.
Why should Nicky care? And who are the two shadowy thugs following him? Could Nicky somehow be involved in the murder? Why is he so adamant Kate stop investigating?
Undaunted by the warnings, Kate and Addy charge unceremoniously into dangerous schemes involving salacious gambling dens, the notorious Cocoanut Grove, and speakeasies; not to mention the dark and seedy underbelly of Paramount Studios. A spectacularly wild time is had by all until Kate lands on the wrong end of a murder charge.
“Adams, whose previous books include a YA supernatural series, capably turns her hand to historical fiction here.”
A Note From the Publisher
55% discount/returnable from IngramSpark
55% discount/returnable from IngramSpark
“A teenage reporter in 1920s Los Angeles investigates the death of a Hollywood director in this YA mystery.
In February 1922, 17-year-old would-be journalist Katharine Ann March gets the scoop on the sudden death by gunshot of famed Paramount Studios movie director William Desmond Taylor. Kate wants to make a name for herself and boost the flagging circulation of her father’s newspaper, and she succeeds on both counts. Often to the annoyance of the Los Angeles Police Department and her longtime friend and neighbor Nicky Masino, a recent LAPD hire, she continues to report the developing story. Lines of investigation include the last person to see Taylor alive; the wife and daughter no one knew the director had; his thieving ex-chauffeur; and more. Kate has a source, too, in her close friend Mary Miles Minter, a 19-year-old film star who had a huge crush on the late-40s Taylor. Kate’s sleuthing takes her and her best friend, Adelaide ‘Addy’ Wells, into the sleaze and glamour of ’20s Hollywood, from speak-easies to a Paramount gala, while dodging suspicious characters—leading to a deadly alleyway encounter that leaves Kate with some explaining to do. Adams, whose previous books include a YA supernatural series, capably turns her hand to historical fiction here. Appropriately for its setting, the series opener has some wonderfully cinematic scenes that vividly evoke Roaring ’20s Hollywood, such as Kate’s flapper makeover and a food fight at the Coconut Grove. Kate is an engaging narrator, boldly wearing trousers and fearlessly poking into various anthills, while unresolved issues from her mother’s abandonment both give her depth and contribute to the story. The mystery itself is complex and satisfyingly resolved.
This sparkling series starter delivers a confounding mystery, authentic historical details, and a spirited journalist.”
Prepublication Industry Reviews
National Promotion Campaign via SCBWI Bookstop
Extensive Email Marketing Campaign, Netgalley, Goodreads
Marketing Outreach to Libraries, Bookstores
Email Marketing Campaign-Young Adult Subscribers
Digital Influencers-Booktubers, Bookstagrammers
Worldwide Marketing and Distribution via Ingram Catalog
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 19 members
Speak Easy was like being dropped into "Newsies", except in LA. A lot of the time i had to remind myself that the characters wouldn't have that classic NY accent. This was a great "cozy" mystery, even in the metropolis that is Los Angeles. Kate March is such an endearing character, mostly because she tries not to be. She follows her own path, the beat of her own drum, and forges her way into quite a first murder investigation for herself. With my knowledge, this book seemed historically accurate when referencing other goings on in the time period (20s). I can't wait to read more of her adventures. Although this genre seems to have a lot of new female heroines from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, it stands out because Kate isn't trying too hard to fit in with the boys. She goes and follows leads and produces information because she is bold and not afraid to ask questions.
Kate March is a precocious high school senior, following in her father's footsteps to become an intrepid reporter. Early one morning Kate gets a scoop: a famous Hollywood director has been found dead inside his home. Not only is Kate the first reporter on the scene, she gets there just in time for the police to find out that death was brought about by a bullet to the back. The case is terribly complex. Before homicide was deemed to be the manner of death, dozens of employees, coworkers, friends, and neighbors traipsed through the crime scene, removing items from the house and trampling all over the room where William Desmond Taylor met his maker. Evidence was hard to come by so Kate could only question witnesses and put together the tiniest inconsistencies in their stories until she figured out who was to blame. Though this book was significantly longer than the average cozy mystery, there was a moment of lag in the entire thing. Kate was on the razors edge of the action from page one until it was over. Though the story took place over the course of around two weeks, Kate went from a rambunctious high school girl to a sophisticated Modern female reporter. There were so many subplots and so many backstories that different angles of the story could be fleshed out for many books to come. Kate can be a bit frustrating as she digs herself into one hole after another no matter how much her father and her neighbor and local police officer Nicky Masino beg her not to get involved. Despite that, you can't help but root her on and acknowledge that in her shoes I'd have done the same thing. Addy makes a great sidekick, she's adventurous but level-headed and well-connected. Mr. Morgan added some spice to the story, especially at the end. I find the 1920's fascinating and this book gives you a whirlwind ride through what was probably one of the most interesting places in the United States during that time. Showing that time and place through the lens of a young woman getting ready to go out into the world and trying to decide who she wanted to be made it even more interesting. I also thought tackling the unsolved mystery of the murder of William Desmond Taylor was exciting, especially since the author identified the killer as having been the person I always thought seemed to have been the most likely suspect. Another thing I enjoyed was the back and forth timeline. Not all authors can pull this off but for me it read like a movie, where we're seeing the current time at the beginning of each chapter and then flashing back to the past. It worked really well and built suspense throughout the story. This book was excellent and as you're reading I highly recommend checking out some of the movies that are mentioned in the book and the actors that appear in the story; there are lots of old movies from this era available online that will allow you to see the actors and actresses at work. I look forward to reading more in this series! Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.