Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play by Ellen Mansoor Collier
Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier
Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1927 / Galveston, TX / Prohibition / Gangsters / Reporter / Murder Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Self published (2012)
Source: The author.
Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: Flapper and reporter Jazz Cross decides to help out her half-brother when a man dies at his club, and finds herself becoming embroiled in a larger, more dangerous plot.
Reading Challenges: E-book, Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: I do -- but I love Art Deco!
First line: Everyone always warned me about Market Street after dark.
Why did I get this book?: A Jazz-Age cozy?! I couldn't resist.
Review: Now and then, I like a cozy mystery: no gore, a bit of drama, a big personality in our heroine, and a plot that doesn't require much but is still fun. Collier's new series, set in 1927 Galveston, Texas, hit the spot for me, and is a fluffy, entertaining bit of summertime escapism.
Jazz Cross, 21-years old, a flapper, and society reporter for the Galveston Gazette, has aspirations of being a 'real' reporter. Her male colleagues think she's just a pretty face, good only for making coffee and reporting on the Garden Club.
When she witnesses the death of a local banker at the Oasis, she decides to investigate it, and unsurprisingly, things are hardly straightforward. The Oasis is owned by Jazz's half brother Sammy, an illegitimate son of her father's who is unwelcome in her family but for whom she has some affection and loyalty, and she wants to ensure Sammy doesn't get any blame. A Treasury Department agent takes a keen interest in the Oasis -- and Jazz -- which complicates things.
Galveston in the 1920s is seedy and rough (it was nicknamed Sin City of the Southwest!) and Collier conveys that gritty roughness from the start, balanced out by our brazen, spunky heroine. There are some wonderful historical details peppered throughout the story as well as a heavy dose of 1920s slang, which was refreshing -- I didn't feel like I was reading a modern story simply set back in the Prohibition. There's a brief preface at the start in which Collier details a little about Galveston at this time and shares links to two slang dictionaries to help readers.
Collier's writing is straight-forward, moving the story along briskly, but with a kind of bounce that matches Jazz's terrier-like determination. (You can read an excerpt of the first chapter at Collier's website.)
This was just the light read I needed this last month, with my brain like a sieve and my energy low -- Jazz was a sweet and fierce heroine to tag along with and I'm looking forward to her next adventure.
*** *** ***
I'm thrilled to offer an e-book copy of Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and international readers, ends 7/5.