Last year I read the first book in this series and I thought it was a promising start and was eager to see how this book would be. I remember that the first book was a little on the slower side but I loved Julia the heroine and that’s what made me want to read this one.
One of the things that always caught my attention was that one of the featured characters was a black singer, so right away I thought that this book would likely tackle some big issues like race.
At a time like this, I am looking to diversify my reading and while this book isn’t by a black author and isn’t meant to be a book about race, it did have racial issues and themes not to mention white privilege in the story, and I thought it was an interesting mystery.
Set in Manhattan’s fabled Jazz Age, Passing Fancies delves beneath the era’s glittering surface to reveal fissures and frictions still raw today.
In 1925, elegant young bibliophile Julia Kydd settles in New York City, eager to join its lively literary scene. Julia is befriended by Black singer Eva Pruitt, author of a manuscript rumored to reveal secrets of the glamorous Harlem nightclub where she works, which caters to fashionable white-only audiences. Publishers are competing for Eva’s novel, keen to exploit fascination with “New Negro” exoticism.
When the club’s owner is found shot to death and the police brutally question Eva, Julia realizes her friend has already been judged guilty. Shaken and ashamed at her own naïveté about American justice, Julia vows to find the murderer before the police can hunt down the fugitive Eva.
Julia’s search draws her into Eva’s world, where she must confront the privileges and blindspots of her race and social class even as she pursues a wily killer (summary from Goodreads)
Right away I felt like this book was already better than the first one. It went a lot faster and the storyline was more developed than I remember the first book being. There is still a part in the middle that drug a bit but over all it read faster than the first book. I can tell that the author has grown since her last book and I loved reading this one.
In addition to race and white privilege, this book takes on more difficult topics including rape and gender issues. While it might appear to be on the lighter side, the content in this one makes it far from a fluffy read. I thought it was an intelligent mystery with lots of red herrings and twists to keep me wondering who the murderer was and what their motives were.
Julia is still a great character and I loved seeing how she evolved from the first book to this one. Personally I think this book could be read without having to read the first book in the series as the author does a great job orientating new readers in the story, but I think reading the first book makes readers appreciate Julia more and the author’s writing.
If you love historical mysteries this is an author and series you want on your radar!