Book Highlight: Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman

last call at the nightingale katharine schellman

Title: Last Call at the Nightingale

Author: Katharine Schellman

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical

New York, 1924. Vivian Kelly’s days are filled with drudgery, from the tenement lodging she shares with her sister to the dress shop where she sews for hours every day.

But at night, she escapes to The Nightingale, an underground dance hall where illegal liquor flows and the band plays the Charleston with reckless excitement. With a bartender willing to slip her a free glass of champagne and friends who know the owner, Vivian can lose herself in the music. No one asks where she came from or how much money she has. No one bats an eye if she flirts with men or women as long as she can keep up on the dance floor. At The Nightingale, Vivian forgets the dangers of Prohibition-era New York and finds a place that feels like home.

But then she discovers a body behind the club, and those dangers come knocking.

Caught in a police raid at the Nightingale, Vivian discovers that the dead man wasn’t the nameless bootlegger he first appeared. With too many people assuming she knows more about the crime than she does, Vivian finds herself caught between the dangers of the New York’s underground and the world of the city’s wealthy and careless, where money can hide any sin and the lives of the poor are considered disposable…including Vivian’s own.

Why This Book

Last Call at the Nightingale, as the title suggests, has to do with a bar. To be specific, a speakeasy because, after all, this is the 1920s. The first in a cozy historical mystery, it kicks off with a dead body just outside the Nightingale when Vivian finds it in the alley. Stuck owing favors, she has no choice but to do as she’s bid, slowly uncovering what really happened.

Since this involves a speakeasy, there is, of course, plenty of alcohol, even if the main characters don’t seem to be particularly heavy drinkers. It’s all about the Nightingale, a place where one can be anyone and there are no differences between classes, races, and sexuality. There’s implicit acceptance, so it’s something of a safe haven, and not just for those who want to drink. But there’s still a decent amount of alcohol flowing on these pages.


My review: “The mystery was slow to start, but ended up being nicely layered without being too weighty and twisty. I also liked Vivian’s back and forth on whether to investigate or not. It was a great introduction to her and the series and I appreciated how she’s smart, but also values self-preservation. The character diversity was my favorite part and it was such a surprise at how much there is”

Courtney Reads Romance gave this 4 stars, saying “I did feel the pacing was a weak point at times, as sometimes the mystery felt less developed and sometimes took a backseat to the other elements of the book. However, I did more or less enjoy what the book had to offer”

Lesa’s Book Critiques said “Schellman’s mysteries are unusual. She introduces readers to a world that isn’t quite what they expected, although it’s based on historical fact”

Lisa’s Cubby said “Last Call at the Nightingale is a wonderful old fashion mystery written in an old fashion way. It reads like a story from True Detective, a magazine from years ago. There is fast action, goons, murder, mystery, mayhem and a strong woman who decides to take them all on”

Alina’s Reading Corner gave this 4 stars, saying “The beginning of the novel was very slow. My biggest pet peeve is the large number of characters in the novel. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the author navigated thru the characters, making them all useful and a part of one big picture. Overall it was a very enjoyable read”

Confessions of a Serial Reader said “I really did enjoy the writing and the mystery was very well done. I had most of it figured out by the end except for the true identity of the killer, which came as a bit of a surprise. My only issue with the book is the setting never felt fully fleshed out. I never really felt like it was the 1920’s”

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Target | Walmart | Powell’s | Booktopia (Australia) | Google Books | Apple Books | Thrift Books | Abe Books | Books-A-Million | | !ndigo (Canada) | Book Depository | Blackwell’s (UK) | Hoopla | Flipkart (India) | | East City Bookshop

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book highlight last call at the nightingale katharine schellman

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