Book: Ultimate Call at the Nightingale

Author: Katharine Schellman

Genre: Historical Mystery

Romance Steam Level: 2 out of 5 (Hot Cocoa)

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Format: audiobook

Length: 9 hours, 11 minutes

New York City 1924

Vivian Kelly is a shop girl for a dressmaker. A drudge. An orphan. One of the many thousands of people trying to get by on long hours of hard work, low wages, and questionable living conditions.

But at a little speakeasy called the Nightingale, Vivian has found a place where she belongs. A place where the music is hot, the booze flows, and no one bats an eye if Vivian occasionally dances with a gal rather than a guy. Then she finds a dead body in the alley. When the Nightingale’s owner starts to feel pressure from both the law and the more shadowy powers of the city, she recruits Vivian to sweet talk a customer or two for some answers. It isn’t long before Vivian has gotten into far more than she bargained for.

I liked this story. Vivian lives right on the edge of respectable and scandalous in 1920s New York. She is Irish and therefore not fairly considered part of the ruling white population, but not quite accepted by other minorities either. (Apart from Bea’s family. Thank goodness for Bea’s family. And Mrs. Thomas, even though she’s grumpy and bitter.)  Vivian has a low-paying job and lives in poor tenement housing with her sister, but escapes to the Nightingale at night. She’s also bisexual, which again puts her correct on that line between society’s approval and scorn. It also makes for a very interesting love triangle. I thought it was refreshing that the dangerous and powerful older love interest is a woman while the stable one who puts Vivian’s safety first is a man.

The mystery was engaging with several twists and turns along the way. Vivian stumbled along enough for someone who was never trained as a detective, but was also observant enough to where I believed she was ultimately able to uncover the truth.

I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Sara Young. She did a great job voicing Vivian and her adventures.

NOTE: I haven’t seen anything stating that there will be more books approximately Vivian, but it feels like the beginning of a series. I hope it is. I’m interested to see what Vivian does next.

Thank you to NetGalley, Dreamscape Media, and Minotaur Books for an Advanced Reader Copy audiobook. ⁠

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