Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz
What we have here is a screwball comedy/mystery set in the early 1920s in New York City. Prohibition, boot-leggers, gamblers, gangsters, Duesenbergs (be still my heart) and flappers galore! It’s a wonderful setting, indeed. Unfortunately, the story soon devolves into a mix of the Keystone Kops and the Perils of Pauline. The reader risks severe dizziness from all the dashing about, and trying to keep track of who all these multitudinous characters are, and just what are they doing, anyway?
The set-up for this series (Come Hell or Highball ) was interesting enough to warrant reading Teetotaled, the second book. But really, what is mostly exposed here is the shallowness of the characters, and the reasons for all the red herrings, etc. Sadly, it is all too easy to lose interest in all of them.
Lola Woodby is a 30-ish widow, no children but a Pomeranian named Cedric, and a devoted cook/housemaid Berta Lundgren. With the hope of earning enough dollars to stay afloat, Lola and Berta team up to be finders of lost items: The Discreet Retrieval Service. If only . . . They continually end up in contrived, not-very-interesting situations. Lola seems to change her love interest nearly as often as she changes her shoes, before settling on ‘the one who brung her’, as the song says. Berta isn’t all that far behind, either.
A few more real clues and a few less of the red herrings might help the next book, if there is one. Rampant silliness doesn’t really ring my bell! So, I’m not sure I’ll be tempted that way again. However, I do realize that all this madness and mayhem may well appeal to a greater share of the population, who could think it’s all a terrific romp.
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.