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HFC Editorial Review of "Songbird" by Gail Meath

Author Bio:

Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

The subgenres of her books vary from action-packed westerns, plot twisting murder mysteries and biographies of powerful women who defied the strict rules of society fighting for the freedom of their countries. Her romances may exclude steamy sexual scenes, yet the intensity between heroine and hero will satisfy your deepest fantasies.

Outside of writing, she spends loads of time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

Editorial Review:

For anyone who loves a rip-roaring good historical mystery, “Songbird” by Gail Meath fits neatly on the shelf alongside Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story is reflective of Christie’s astute detecting skills by use of characters such as Poirot and Marple; and is equally reminiscent of Fitzgerald’s eye for the era of the 1920s New York lifestyle.

The story opens with a death, which is always a great kickstarter for a mystery novel – a real whodunnit, “Clue”-like scenario as a talented composer drops dead after adding the finishing touches to what he imagines is his masterpiece – a musical written especially for the Broadway stage and for one lovely actress known as the “Songbird.”

Enter Jax Diamond, a savvy and handsome private detective with a few secrets up his sleeve, whose name alone conjures the reader’s curiosity – after all, what parent would name their child ‘Jax Diamond’? This little bit of information reveals in the storyline in a natural and informative way, adding depth to Jax’s character. What is determined by the coroner to be nothing more than death by natural causes is a cause for concern for Jax, after all, some of the clues at the crime scene don’t add up... and he, along with his trusty sidekick, Ace (a beautiful German Shepherd who has a ‘nose’ for investigating), is determined to get to the bottom of what really happened to Sam Sanders.

And the clues stack up, leading him back stage of some of Time Square’s renowned theaters, and in close company with Laura Graystone, a young rising star called the “Songbird” in some of the theater reviews of the New York Times. One of the clues – a mysterious lily left on Sam Sander’s jacket... and the single white gardenia left in Ms Graystone’s dressing room... are just some of the clues leading to the murderer; and also links a ‘cold case’ murder of another famous Broadway star whose death paves the way for Laura’s rise.

This clever story winds the reader through the streets of 1920s New York like a native city tour guide, adding such absorbing detail about the glamous fashions, the snarky ‘flapper’ gabbing between Laura and her friends, breaking the Prohibition rules, sneaking into speakeasy pubs, riding the rides at Coney Island, and the changing attitudes for men and women during this transitioning time in history. Along with the captivating characters, the story engages you and you find yourself quickly turning the pages to find the next clue along with Jax and Laura.

And the budding romance between Jax and Laura is a nice addition to the storyline, as well as how the entwining and revealing resolution to the case links Jax to his own troubling past.

This definitely a good cozy mystery, one you can read in one sitting, or perhaps linger over a quiet weekend with a glass of wine and a roaring fire while listening to Benny Goodman wail some Jazz in the background. I, for one, am a huge Gatsby fanatic, so I was utterly charmed by this story, not to mention there is a dog as a character. By the end, you just want to snuggle up to Ace!

This book is quite a departure from Ms Meath’s weighty story of Agustina Sargossa, a brave young woman who joined the fight in Barcelona Spain in 1803, in her novel “Agustina of Aragon”, but just as she did with that five-star book, she shows her skill as a writer by switching gears and plunging into the mysteries of New York City without any missteps along the way. And she does all this while giving the reader a first-class mystery novel with just enough tidbits along the way to allow the reader to follow the trail and try to find the guilty party – all done is a believable and refreshing way.

Again, Ms Meath has earned a ‘five star’ rating from The Historical Fiction Company and the “Highly Recommended” award.


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