Speak Easy – A Kate March Mystery

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.

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 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 solve the murder herself, much to the annoyance of the Los Angeles Police Department.

But 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 and illegal 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.

This book was very exciting from start to finish. The book started with Kate Marsh being interviewed by a police detective whilst having a head wound and being covered in blood! Each chapter took the format of the police detective asking a question or for clarification and then a flashback to what happened. I found this format to be really enjoyable as it was like being in the police interview room . This was an enjoyable read and I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, 3.5 if half marks were an option. It’s definitely a high 3!

As a character, Kate was enjoyable. She was daring and like a dog with a bone. I like books with a sleuth and Kate was a very good sleuth. I liked that she was very methodical about her investigations without jumping to conclusions. She was impulsive but in the excitement of the case, I thought it was to be expected. I did enjoy the case being solved by a young woman, her housekeeper, and school friend. Three women that wouldn’t have been listened to in the 1920s. I spent so much of the book just wanting to know more about Nicky and why he was the way he was. I was very pleased with the reveal as I was worried that it wouldn’t come.

I sort of hoped for a bit more closure regarding Kate’s mum. Or even a bit more of an explanation but that didn’t come. I do suppose it wouldn’t really have affected the story in any way, I’m just being nosy.

The book was set in the 1920s and the author really did their homework with all of the references, I particularly enjoyed the cameo of Max Factor! I love a makeover montage! There were an awful lot of references to the 1920s and a lot of slang. At times it felt a little bit too much, there was no chance of forgetting that the book was set in the 1920s. I think that a lot of the drama of the flapper era was embodied and there was a ball, I love a ball scene!

There was one part of the book that I didn’t like as it felt like a character was being shamed for her romantic life and we don’t do that. However it was historically accurate so while it did happen (and still happens today) I don’t have to be happy about it. Part of this bit of the book really gave me the ick despite it being well documented that stuff like that happened and still happens. It’s so hard to fully explain this without giving a huge spoiler of the book but if you read it, you’ll know what part I mean. I think it gave me a lot to think about.

The ending, I felt, was perfect. I was worried that the book was going in a direction I really didn’t want it to. Although with the timeline I could forgive it but I wouldn’t have liked it. I was glad that the book ended the way that it did as it felt true to the character of Kate. I’m excited to read more about Kate’s future investigations.

At the end of the book there was a note from the author saying that the book was partially based on the real life unsolved murder of Paramount Director, William Desmond Taylor which remains a cold case. I felt down such a Google rabbit hole after finishing this book. I think it’s a good sign when a book leaves you wanting more!

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m now so much closer to being caught up with my NetGalley books and have learned my lesson about not getting all the books at once, I need to finish some before going back for more…I say ‘lesson learned’ but I’ll probably oversubscribe myself to ebooks again soon!

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