Review and Giveaway: Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville


Title/Author: Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville (Jazz Age Mystery Series) (Volume 4)/ Ellen Mansoor Collier
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Historical
Publisher: DECODAME Press
Date of publish: August 2015
Pages: 250
Book Links:
Amazon/ Goodreads / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound / Kobo / Riffle / Smashwords

About The Book:

dIn 1920s Galveston, society reporter Jazz Cross is in for a surprise when she attends a traveling vaudeville show with her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, and discovers that an old flame acts in the production. That night, they find a stabbing victim behind the Oasis — her half-brother Sammy’s speakeasy — who’s identified as an actor in the troupe. When the victim disappears and later turns up dead, Jazz must help prove that Sammy wasn’t the killer.
Meanwhile, a ring of jewel thieves is turning up all over town, robbing rich tourists of their precious gems. After a second vaudeville actor is found dead, Jazz discovers that the events behind the scenes are much more interesting than the outdated acts onstage.
To make matters worse, Sammy’s old nemesis demands that he settles a score and forces him into yet another illegal scheme. Can Jazz help solve the murders and prove her brother’s innocence—so he can escape the Downtown Gang for good?
A historical Jazz Age mystery inspired by real-life Galveston gangs and local landmarks.

What Others Are Saying:

I love this series and going back to the Jazz era and Prohibition.
~Community Bookstop

My Review:

Jazz Cross is a society reporter with Pulitzer dreams working for the Galveston Gazette. She seems to have a knack for landing in the middle of mysteries. As this story starts out her job is to review the new vaudeville act that just came into town. Little does she know that an ex-boyfriend is part of the troop or that what is going on backstage is far more interesting than the show itself.

She and her current boyfriend, federal agent James Burton, are called to deal with a murder at her brother’s speakeasy club only to find out the man isn’t dead. However, before they can question him at the hospital the next day they discover he has disappeared only to turn up later at the same club, this time very much dead. It is soon revealed that he has ties to the Vaudeville troop and not long after, the death of a second person involved with the show adds to the deepening mystery. Meanwhile Jazz and Burton have discovered a possible jewel theft ring involving members of the troop that has landed Jazz’s brother in some serious hot water with the local gangs that already want him dead.

I don’t often review to a soundtrack, however this review called for an old favorite to be dusted off, several actually. When I was in high school I was in a Madrigal group which officially speaking specializes in music from the Renaissance, however our music director had a serious thing for jazz and the music mentioned throughout this book set me off down memory lane.

This was, for me, the first book in this series that I have read. Though there is obviously a history with the characters, it is a fine stand alone story that encourages, but doesn’t require further reading to keep up.

This particular era in American history, although quite brutal, lends itself beautifully to the cozy mystery genre with its fierce heroines and brave and brash heroes. Ms. Collier’s exquisite attention to details such as speech and clothing, just added to the enjoyment of a well written story. I appreciated the inclusion of a glossary of terms from the era and the information from the preface. Both provided a solid base for the story.

This was the golden era of feminism. Newly independent women were venturing into male dominated arenas sparking an over-reaction of condescension and sexism on the part of men not quite sure how deal with the changing world. There is always the tendency to make male characters in this time a cliche of stupid lugs, especially when dealing with journalists or law enforcement, but I have to say that in this story the author managed a fine balance. Jasmine is feisty and independent, but not crass or aggressive and the men she deals with earn an eye roll, but aren’t over the top. It was great to see she quite is capable of getting herself into and out of trouble, but isn’t afraid to allow her men to rescue her as need be.

I also adored how the seemingly straightforward story line was anything but simple. Jazz, in trying to help, makes things worse and then when that seems like it will be too much to overcome, the story twists again. Even her simple investigation to find Derek has unseen complications. All in all it was an enjoyable single sitting read, with a cast of characters I would like to spend more time with.

5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Other Books Written by Ellen Mansoor Collier:

Amazon or Barnes and Noble

c Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns (Jazz Age Mystery)

b Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets (A Jazz Age Mystery #2) (Volume 2)

a Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play (A Jazz Age Mystery) (Volume 1)



About The Author:

EllenSanLuisout1Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.
A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).
FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.
“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”
Author Links: Website / Goodreads / Pinterest / Facebook

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