Review published on December 15, 2017.
I loved this book! Totally absorbed into the world of 1930s Manhattan within the first few pages, we follow acclaimed writer Edna Ferber and her close friend Noel Coward around the theatres, restaurants, newly constructed mega skyscrapers in a city trying to recover from the disastrous Wall Street Crash.
At Coward’s birthday bash in December 1932, whilst he is in America promoting his plays and writing new work, new glamorous singing star Belinda Ross is seen with rich theatre lover Dougie Maddox although the evening is marred by arguments that feed into the gaining gossip about the attractive new Broadway star.
We meet Irving Berlin and Leslie Howard alongside the critics and hangers on that flourish in the glitzy world of showbiz and although Edna is somewhat portrayed as cynical, she loves the old star that is Coward, amongst his coterie of fans.
As Christmas approaches and Edna and Noel get drawn more into Belinda’s past and present world, the dizzy veneer is shattered when Belinda is found strangled outside a cheap and tacky automat (restaurant).
The settings and descriptions of glamorous Manhattan alongside the homeless poverty of many freezing on streets and in tents in Central Park is now marred by the fear of a murderer. Edna, previously a journalist, takes it upon herself to investigate the matter, doubting that the police have really worked hard to uncover the real suspect. Perhaps a trifle unbelievably (although Coward may have loved it) Noel decides to accompany Edna on visits to suspects and to past secrets and lives that have led to this point.
I loved some of the minor characters (Dougie’s grand widow mother Lady Maud is best!) and the plot rattles along with some great twists and new suspects.
This may be a series for amateur sleuth Edna and I’d love to read more as long as the author keeps to the tight, crafted plot and dialogue. There would be many more dodgy characters to be found in America’s theatre/movie world surely?!
A great personal read, especially if you know nothing about this time or of Noel Coward. Book clubs would find it fascinating too as a new addition to murder mystery themed novels.
Philipa Coughlan 5/5
Mood Indigo by Ed Ifkovic
Poisoned Pen Press 9781464209437 pbk Jan 2018
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