In 1936 London, Lena Aldridge, a talented mixed-race singer and actress, dreams of performing on grand stages. Yet, her reality finds her stuck in the dimly lit confines of a shabby basement jazz club in Soho. Life takes a cruel turn as her beloved single father passes away, her married boyfriend walks out on her, and her best friend involves her in a murder.
Just when it seems like all hope is lost, a mysterious stranger extends an irresistible offer: a starring role on Broadway and a luxurious voyage aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Lena jumps at the chance to skip town. So what if the offer is too good to be true?
Onboard, she passes as Italian, and a dysfunctional aristocratic family draws her into their fold. On their first day at sea, one among them is killed in an eerily familiar way. Soon, other members of the family meet untimely demises, and Lena can’t shake the feeling that she’s being framed.
The characters are well crafted, and the attention to period details is spot on. While the overall plot kept me guessing with its twists and turns, it is ridiculously implausible. The anti-climactic ending caught me off guard and Lena’s onboard romance seemed contrived and lacked natural flow.
While the story has its quirks, it is entertaining enough to pique my curiosity about the next installment in the Canary Club Mysteries series. If you’re a fan of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Lena Aldridge’s adventures are likely to satisfy.
** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions are my own.