The roaring 20’s is such an interesting timeline; I think the only book that comes to mind for that era is The Great Gatsby, which I absolutely dislike. So, I have been pleasantly surprised with these Ever After Mysteries.
With Murder at the Empire, author Cathe Swanson brings in many of the large components of the time, such as prohibition, women’s rights, flappers, and the Ritz life, through the eyes of an organist for the movie palace. Gayle is struggling to fit in as an organist in a “man’s world” and to top it all off, her boss has disappeared, expensive artifacts are disappearing, and are people being murdered?
Like always, I am more critical of short stories. You have to be able to give all the details we need to be able to solve the mystery, give us enough character development to be invested, and then not make everything feel rushed: this book hit all those points and I was so pleased by it!
Our character Gayle wasn’t particularly my favorite. I felt that she was wishy-washy at times. She wanted to tell someone about the way she was treated and then was upset when the manager would confront the people treating her poorly. So I was confused as to what she actually wanted, and when other scenarios would come up, it would just rub me wrong. I debated within myself if this was a deliberate use of character since she is in her younger years and developing into a mature woman, but at the same time I would have thought a lot of those flip-flop nature of learning to stand up for yourself would have developed especially during this day and age.
I really really enjoyed the sprinkling of a lot of historical information that didn’t feel like an info dump. I thought the author really did a phenomenal job of that. And the mystery had almost a hint of Agatha Christie-ness to it. Really loved that.
Not knowing too much about the fairy-tale, The Nightingale, I can’t really give you too much to compare with but I think that the whole glitzy life really worked at the inspiration with the novel.
About the Book
Book: Murder at the Empire
Author: Cathe Swanson
Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: October 5, 2021
Gayle Wells is a killer organist, but does a killer have her in his sights?
They call him the Emperor. John Starek fills his theater with fine artwork and treasures. He’s particularly pleased to have one of the country’s first female organists – and he thinks Gayle Wells is the bee’s knees.
Despite pressure from her social crusader mother, Gayle isn’t interested in changing the world. She just wants a car of her own – and a career playing the organ at the Empire movie palace would be especially ducky.
Then the Empire’s treasures start disappearing and employees start dying. Are a few pieces of art really enough motive for the string of murders? Will Gayle be next?
Murder at the Empire brings the Nightingale into an elegant movie palace in the roaring 20’s – but the real excitement is all off-screen.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
After 40 years of wandering (but always in lovely places and not in a desert), Cathe Swanson has recently returned to her childhood home and family in Minnesota. In the summer, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and being outdoors, gardening, hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking. The long winters are perfect for writing books, playing games, reading, and indoor hobbies. Cathe’s been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years and enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.
Everything inspires new books! A lifelong love of quilting, Cathe’s Swedish heritage and an interest in genealogy led to The Glory Quilts series, and The Hope Again series is inspired by her life in the Midwest and experiences with the elderly, the military, and inner-city ministry. As a child of the sixties, she’s having fun writing about hippies and the Jesus People movement in the Serenity Hill series.
Cathe writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.
More from Cathe
The 1920’s is a fascinating era. Women had recently won the right to vote, and America adopted the Volstead Act – Prohibition – which led to the growth of underground clubs and organized crime. Women were forging new paths in social reform, politics, science, medicine and every other career. America became more urbanized, building suburbs and developing a large middle-class population. The affordable automobile changed the entire culture! It was a time of innovation and rapidly expanding technology. Synthetic fabrics, convenience foods, electric appliances and other inventions made daily life easier. People had more free time, money and access to a variety of entertainments than ever before.
So much happened in this brief, exciting decade between the end of WWI and the Great Depression! It’s always interested me, so I was flattered and thrilled when Celebrate Lit Publishing invited me to participate in The Ever After Mysteries, a collection of 1920’s mysteries inspired by fairy tales. I’m a great fan of mysteries from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, and I read at least a thousand fairy tales as a child.
To be honest… I set about it backward. I knew I wanted to write about a young woman playing the Mighty Wurlitzer organ to accompany silent films at a glamorous movie palace, so I Iooked for a fairy tale to match it!
I chose The Nightingale, an old Chinese story about an Emperor with a beautiful palace. Everything in it was exquisite and fragile, and people came from all over the world to admire his palace. He loved to show it off and even tied little bells to the prettiest blossoms in the garden, to make sure no one missed them. When the emperor heard rumors about a bird that sang more beautifully than anything else, he sought it out and brought it home to live in the palace, where it could sing to entertain him and his guests.
At that point, the fairy tale and my story diverge. In the fairy tale, the nightingale lives in the palace singing for the court until the Emperor of Japan presents the Emperor of China with a bejeweled mechanical bird – so much prettier than the plain brown nightingale. The Chinese emperor abandons the real bird and enjoys the mechanical one until it breaks. He falls into a deep depression and is only restored to health by the return of the real nightingale.
None of that happens in Murder at the Empire, but there’s lot of other fun, jazzy excitement as the John Starek – the “Emperor” – fills his magnificent movie palace with fine artwork and beautiful things – including Chicago’s first female theater organist, Gayle Wells. He thinks she’s the bee’s knees, but she’s a pretty independent girl, busy working and saving money to buy her own car.
And then things start falling apart… with murder at the Empire. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 17
Blossoms and Blessings, November 17
Texas Book-aholic, November 18
Blogging With Carol, November 18
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 19
deb’s Book Review, November 20
Sodbusterliving, November 20
Inklings and notions, November 21
For Him and My Family, November 22
Simple Harvest Reads, November 22 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 23
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 24
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 24
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, November 25 (Author Interview)
For the Love of Literature, November 25
Connie’s History Classroom, November 26
Genesis 5020, November 26
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 27
Connect in Fiction, November 27
Back Porch Reads, November 28
Through the fire blogs, November 28
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 29
To celebrate her tour, Cathe is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.