I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.
Eve Riser is a pianist on the jazz circuit in prohibition-era Illinois. She is caught up in a violent crime while on the circuit. Fearing that she would be connected to the crime, Eva is sent to Chicago to work and stay with her step-sister, Chickie. When she arrives Eva quickly finds herself in the middle of a drive by shooting of a bootlegger in which she is also shot. Lena, the deceased bootlegger’s sister helps Eva recovery. However, while she is recovering Chickie disappears and Eva discovers that the money she has been sent to Chicago with is missing. Lena and Eva go on a hunt of Chicago’s jazz clubs and speakeasies to try and find answers behind Lena’s brother’s death and try and find Chickie.
This is a historical mystery that throws you right into the action. Within the first few pages a man is dead and Eva is sent on the run. The danger quickly escalates as Eva, an African-American woman, navigates Chicago with a large amount of money. Since there is so much action in the beginning, I didn’t really get to know Eva’s character all that well other than that she is a brilliant musician and pianist who cares deeply for he sister. What I did get a wonderful sense of was the time period and music scene. The rise of jazz, the overall feeling that the music gives you, the story it tells and the way it brings people together was really the forefront of the novel for me. I loved the scenes in the jazz clubs where Eva or Lena was describing the music and the process of playing and writing. I did feel like I could hear some of the songs myself. Another aspect that was done well was the different racial relations of 1920’s Chicago. Many of the jazz musicians are African American and rule the jazz club scene, but segregation is still very much a part of their world. The friendship between Eva and Lena, a white nurse grows throughout the story as they navigate treacherous territory within the bootlegging world. However, Eva’s race sometimes hinders their mission. The mystery part of the novel, took a bit of a back seat for me, I did want to know why Lena’s brother was shot and how it connected to the death in the very beginning, but the setting and music stole the scene for me.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.