Come Hell or Highball (Discreet Retrieval Agency #1) by Maia Chance
To be published: Sept 15, 2015
Set in the early 1920s in New York City, socialite Lola Woodby’s philandering husband Alfie has finally died and the book opens up at the funeral. She is, of course, glad to be rid of him and looks forward to spending his money. Unfortunately she is stopped in this pursuit by his slimy brother Chisholm, who now has ownership of her house, and the knowledge that Alfie left her completely bankrupt and in debt. She sets herself up in Alfie’s secret love-nest with the only staff member who stood by her, Berta, her Swedish baker and her Pomeranian. She decides to take up the offer from one of Alfie’s girlfriends to rescue a film canister from one of her former friends. But everything is not as it seems and she soon notices a man following her. He is a private investigator named Ralph Oliver. What does he want? Are they hunting the same thing? Will she be able to find the film canister and gain back some of her respectability? To find out, read this highly entertaining mystery. 4 stars.
First off, I loved the title, time period and the fact that the main character is a curvy girl down on her luck. The book played out like a 1930s comedy mystery, like Nick and Nora Charles, complete with cocktails. I loved the witty repartee between Lola, Berta, her cook and Ralph. I also liked the fact that she usually had to rely on Berta to keep her head above water and from rushing into things. Lola has great fashion sense and an extreme love of chocolate, and a was bit fluffy-headed. And yes, the characters are a bit stereotyped, like the goofy lug who works for his gangster boss but has a soft spot for Berta, the aristocratic British butler who makes a great highball, the nosy female reporter who is always in the right place at the wrong time, and scheming film stars. For me that was part of the charm, and it does make for a fun romp into the glamorous twenties.