1936. Lena Aldridge is a singer/dancer/actor, of mixed race, for whom life is not looking up. She’s singing, but in a back-street basement club. Her lover, a married man, has left her. She’s been kicked out of her apartment space, and to cap it all off, there’s been a murder at the club. She’s ready for something positive to come her way so when a stranger approaches and offers her a starring role on Broadway and first class passage for a cruise on The Queen Mary, Lena accepts the offers. But while aboard the ship there’s a death that suspiciously resembles the murder at the club and Lena wonders if she is somehow connected.
By the description, this book is exactly the sort of book that I’ve been enjoying reading the last few years … historical fiction, borderline jazz era, theatre and music, mystery. What’s not to love? But the book rather let me down.
The plot is complicated – which is a good thing, for me, in a mystery (as long as it is traceable, and I believe it is); the setting is stunning, so what doesn’t work?
I think it was the constant reminder that Lena isn’t white.
I get it. I really do understand that race is something that those who are not white are constantly aware of, perhaps particularly so during this era. I completely understand that there is an inherent danger for someone like Lena to pose as white if she is not. The book brings nice awareness of this and puts it into historical perspective very nicely. But it’s out of balance. This is not what the book is about, but it’s given a lot of weight.
This theme is central to a book like The Personal Librarian (which I reviewed in December of 2021) but this book doesn’t seem to have made a decision as to how important this is to the story and for me this really took away from the pleasure of reading the mystery.
Overall, the book was okay, but nothing so strong that I can’t for the next in the series.
Looking for a good book? Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare is an historical fiction mystery that maybe spends a little too much time internalizing to make it truly enjoyable.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Miss Aldridge Regrets
author: Louise Hare
series: Canary Club Mystery #1
hardcover, 368 pages