Author: Martha Conway
Publisher: Noontime Books
Published Date: May 12th 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Page Count: 305
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
A New Mystery by Edgar-Nominated Author Martha Conway
In 1921, young jazz pianist Eve Riser witnesses the accidental killing of a bootlegger. To cover up the crime, she agrees to deliver money and a letter to a man named Rudy Hardy in Chicago. But when Eve gets to Chicago she discovers that her stepsister Chickie, a popular nightclub singer, is pregnant by a man she won’t name. That night Rudy Hardy is killed before Eve’s eyes in a brutal drive-by shooting, and Chickie disappears.
Eve needs to find Chickie, but she can’t do it alone. Lena Hardy, Rudy’s sister, wants to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder, but she needs Eve’s connections. Together they navigate the back alleys and speakeasies of 1920s Chicago, encountering petty thugs, charismatic bandleaders, and a mysterious nightclub owner called the Walnut who seems to be the key to it all. As they fight racial barriers trying to discover the truth, Eve and Lena unravel a twisted tale of secret shipments and gangster rivalry.
SUGARLAND mixes the excitement of a new kind of music—jazz—with the darker side of Prohibition in a gripping story with “real suspense for anyone who likes a good mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Find SUGARLAND on Amazon and Goodreads!
Martha Conway is the author of Sugarland: A Jazz Age Mystery [Noontime Books], available via Amazon as of May 12, 2016. Conway’s first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her second novel, Thieving Forest, won the 2014 North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, The Carolina Quarterly Review, The Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, Folio, and other journals. She teaches creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and UC Berkeley Extension, and is a recipient of a California Arts Council Fellowship for Creative Writing. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She currently lives in San Francisco.
Connect with Martha on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her website: www.marthaconway.com
"She knew what it would be like out on the circuit: some places they love the music and some places they don't. You get into a groove, then a waiter drops a tray and you lose it. Can't get your dresses cleaned properly, the man stiffs you on your pay, you take a break to eat lunch and can't find a resturant that will serve you. She knew what the life was like, but she was going to do it anyway. She had to, and she wanted to."
Eve riser is a young piano player that goes on a circuit across the country with other musicians playing Jazz. One night when out with a guy she witnesses something awful and because of that he sends her back to Chicago with something to give to a man named Rudy.
Once she is back in Chicago and meets up with her sister Chickie who has her own problems that play a pretty big part in the second half of the story. But once these two sisters start working together and becoming a team again everything seems like it will look up. That is until Rudy and his sister Lena get added into the picture and more tragedy happens.
"She thought wearing men's clothes would make her feel free, but instead she was just wondering at every turn what she should do with her hands, her feet."
Lena is a young woman who has lost everyone close to her in her family, and because of this she is willing to do what it takes to try and find out what exactly happened, why it happened, and who did it. She gets help from Eve and a cast of other characters that help her in a bunch of different ways.
Overall I really liked this story. I found it to be a really quick read and I loved the friendship that happened between Eve and Lena despite the racial differences. This story is told in perspective of both Eve and Lena (Chickie had a small part to) so we got to see how things were different for both of them, and how they both felt towards each other and how/why they wanted to help each other figure out what was going on. I also really enjoyed the musical parts and how they were explained in a simple way that still made sense (I took piano classes for 3 years, but sadly wasn’t ever really good at it) and helped the story go along. I did occasionally get a few of the male characters confused because they had similar names, but I think that was just me not paying close enough attention at times.
If you want a quick, 1920’s story that involves music and friendship then please read this book.
"This was all she wanted sometimes. To play her music and forget about everything else."
Thank you to Netgalley and Noontime publishing for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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