Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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“Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines.” A Houston native, Collier has written two previous novels in her “A Jazz Age Mystery” series.
“During Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, the Island was called the ‘Free State of Galveston’ due to its lax laws and laissez faire attitude toward gambling, girls and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (Jazz) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she's stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.
After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz must work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames Jasmine’s half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment.
When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against a common enemy.”
Jasmine (or Jazz for short) is motivated to figure out who was behind the murder of a bar owner, not only to prove her chops as a serious reporter, but because of concerns for her half-brother, Sammy, and her new squeeze, Prohibition Agent Burton. That her budding romance is with someone who works the opposite side of the law from her brother complicates things.
This was a fun story, made more so by the setting (I could picture at least a few of the Galveston landmarks in my mind) and the Jazz era slang. I found the slang amusing and easy to understand, but if you get hung up on it a section at the back will help you out. Perusing that list after finishing the book I was surprised to discover that, as anyone who’s spent time in Minnesota’s Twin Cities or watched the Mighty Duck movies would think, a Cake-eater isn’t always someone from Edina (a Minneapolis suburb).
No significant issues.
Although this is the third book in the series and I’m sure some of the characters made appearances in prior books, I didn’t feel as though I was disadvantaged understanding or following the story even though I haven’t read the prior books.
Rating: **** Four stars