I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Murder, She Reported by Peg Cochran
Series: Murder She Reported #1
A Park Avenue princess discovers the dark side of 1930s New York when a debutante ball turns deadly in this gripping historical mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Anne Perry, and Rhys Bowen.
Manhattan, 1938. Tired of being trapped in the gilded cage of her family’s expectations, Elizabeth Adams has done what no self-respecting socialite would think to do: She’s gotten herself a job. Although Elizabeth’s dream is to one day see her photographs on the front page of the Daily Trumpet, for now she’s working her way up as the newsroom’s gal Friday.
But fetching coffee isn’t exactly her idea of fun. So when veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky needs a photographer to fill in for a last-minute assignment, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. At the Waldorf Hotel, Elizabeth is tasked with tracking down the season’s “It girl,” Gloria DeWitt, who will be making her society debut. Working her own connections to New York’s upper crust, Elizabeth manages to land an exclusive interview with Gloria.
Then Gloria’s stepmother is shot dead in a Waldorf bathroom, placing Elizabeth at the scene of a headline-worthy scandal: “Murder of a Society Dame.” Now Elizabeth will have to get the scoop on the killer before her good name gets dragged through the gossip columns—or worse. . . .
This book was absolutely charming. I haven’t read anything by Peg Cochran before, but I am so glad I got my hands on this one.
Elizabeth “Biz” Adams should be content to live out her life like her friends and mother – relaxing on Park Avenue, her only concerns where today’s lunch will be and which handsome man will be escorting her. But it’s 1938, women can have careers, and Biz wants more from life than 3-martini lunches.
Biz gets a job as a gal Friday working for the Daily Trumpet newspaper, and when one of the reporters, Ralph Kaminsky, needs someone to fill in for a sick photographer, she’s finally able to put her photography classes to use and accompany him out on a story.
She wasn’t expecting that story to be covering the debutante ball at the Waldorf, but when one of the guests is murdered, Biz realizes that her worlds colliding has put her in the unique position of being able to maneuver through both.
I loved watching Biz navigate this completely new world. Thanks to her father’s shrewd financial acumen, her family has been less affected by the Depression than most of her peers. This means her life has been very comfortable, but also very sheltered. As she accompanies Kaminsky to various crime scenes, she’s exposed to a side of New York she never even imagined. Even though she wasn’t expecting to spend her days photographing corpses and murder suspects, she quickly realizes she has a great eye for the work. She doesn’t pretend to be unaffected, but she takes it in stride and does the work she needs to. She’s smart, seeing connections and suspects Kaminsky doesn’t, and even the police don’t, thanks in no small part to her ability to seamlessly move through the worlds of the working class and the higher society without making waves in either one.
Even though this takes place in New York, I had to keep reminding myself of that fact. I don’t know what it was, but I kept thinking this was happening in London, and being surprised again when they went to Grand Central Station or some other clearly-New-York location. I don’t know what it was, because Peg Cochran did a great job using New York as a setting. But for some reason, I kept falling back to picturing London again.
There’s a hint of romantic possibility for Biz with Sal Marino, one of the detectives assigned to most of the cases in the book. (Of course he was.) I like Sal and Biz, but I don’t know how they’re going to navigate their different backgrounds enough to be accepted by their families and friends, Elizabeth’s more than Sal’s. As Elizabeth herself notes, Sal Marino is “brash, slightly vulgar, handsome and very cocky”. He’s completely different than the men her parents want her to date, all of whom are well-dressed, have perfect manners, and never have to work or worry about anything in their lives. When one comments that he lost his shirt in a bad investment, he follows it up with a shrug, noting “I’m not worried. My old man will beil me out.” She realizes she has no interest in those men anymore, but that doesn’t mean she can just bring Marino home for dinner.
Overall, this is a great start to a new series. I’ve already ordered the second book, Murder, She Uncovered, which will be out in May. I can’t wait to see what Peg Cochran has in store for Elizabeth and Marino, and to see what further adventures Biz gets up to with Kaminsky.