Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man

by Emily J. Edwards
Crooked Lane, November 2022, $28.99

Savvy, streetwise Viviana Valentine has an affectionate, bantering relationship with her boss, the handsome, macho private investigator Tommy Fortuna. It’s June 1950, and Tommy has just been hired by the wealthy diamond magnate Tallmadge Blackstone to tail his gorgeous 18-year-old daughter Tallulah (Tally to her friends), a recent debutante whose gallivanting around town is avidly followed by the tabloids.

Blackstone wants to marry Tally off to his reclusive business partner Webber Harrington-Whitney, a WWI veteran, despite their 40-year age difference. Blackstone wants Tommy to find out if a secret boyfriend is the reason why Tally is balking at the idea. It seems like good money for easy work.

But the day after Tommy takes the case, a body shows up on the floor of his and Viviana’s office—and Tommy disappears. Viviana has no choice but to call the police, who promptly assume that Tommy assaulted the man and has gone on the lam. Is Tommy’s absence related to the Blackstone case or to the ongoing search for his missing brother, whom he believes was murdered by the mob?

Unfortunately, there’s bad blood between Tommy and the condescending and handsy detective on the case, Jake Lawson, who Viviana fears is far from an objective investigator. She needs to find out for herself what’s really going on, with some help from her housemates: teacher Dotty, nurse Betty, and fashion model Phyllis.

To make matters worse, Viviana’s obnoxious ex keeps showing up unexpectedly, and Blackstone abruptly summons her for a progress report. But when an unknown intruder attacks Viviana, she realizes that the Blackstone case has much higher stakes than she imagined—and her investigation could endanger her friends as well as herself.

Emily J. Edwards’ new Girl Friday Mystery series makes an impressive debut with this engaging spin on the classic detective novel. Viviana’s wry voice as a former country bumpkin turned street-smart New Yorker is delightful, and her keen powers of observation immerse the reader in the steamy atmosphere of summer in New York.

The other characters, from mob goons to high-society housewives, are vividly drawn, the dialogue is snappy, and the plot moves quickly, with numerous unexpected twists. Readers who enjoy strong, smart female protagonists, classic detective fiction, historical mysteries, or all three, will find themselves looking forward to Viviana’s next adventure.

Jean Gazis
Teri Duerr
November 2022
Crooked Lane