Description (from cover): “London, 1936. Lena Aldridge wonders if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho, and her married lover has just left her. But Lena has always had a complicated life, one shrouded in mystery as a mixed-race girl passing for white in a city unforgiving of her true racial heritage.
She’s feeling utterly hopeless until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better, and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. But death follows her onboard when an obscenely wealthy family draws her into their fold just as one among them is killed in a chillingly familiar way. As Lena navigates the Abernathy’s increasingly bizarre family dynamic, she realizes her greatest performance won’t be for an audience, but for her life.”
Lena Aldridge is a mixed-race Jazz club singer in Soho, London in the 1930’s. She wants to be an actress and has auditioned for many roles, but to her dismay, she can only find employment in the seedy Canary Club. Her best friend Maggie is married to the club’s owner and when Maggie informs Lena that her husband is cheating on her and has filed for divorce, Lena tries to restrain her friend from doing anything she will regret. Maggie, having a mind of her own, will brook no challenge and sets out to destroy her husband and Lena finds herself right in the middle of a nasty dispute between the two. Lena is torn between wanting to be there for her friend, but she also needs her job. When Maggie’s husband dies at the club under mysterious circumstances, Lena decides to take up a stranger’s offer of a role on Broadway and a first-class ticket to New York. She sets sail on the Queen Mary hoping for some peace and quiet before she starts her new life in New York.
Of course, that is not meant to be. On the first evening of the voyage, Lena finds herself sitting at dinner with the wealthy Abernathy family and soon becomes involved in their family drama. When the patriarch of the family is murdered in a way similar to Maggie’s husband, Lena becomes very concerned that she will be blamed for both murders. She is determined to solve the murder before she is carted back to England to face the hangman’s noose. Using her plucky personality and keeping her wits about her, she is determined to clear her name so she can have the dream life she always wanted in New York.
I really enjoyed this book. Lena’s character is a little more forceful than others in this time period, and it really goes a long way to endearing the reader to her. She doesn’t take anything from anyone and she is determined to make sure that everyone knows that even though she is a mixed woman in a white man’s world, she will not be kept down. I really thought that this mystery was well-developed and you couldn’t help but root for Lena and want everything to work out for the best. This series has a lot of potential and I can see how it sets itself apart from others in this genre to focus the reader on characters who don’t have the social status and racial equality and who are often overlooked as main characters in historical mysteries. I thought that this book was phenomenal and I cannot wait to read more in the series in the future.
Overall Rating: 5 stars
Author: Louise Hare
Series: Canary Club Mystery #1
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
Genre: Historical Mystery
Get It: Amazon
Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.