Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man

Viviana Valentine, after escaping her too-small hometown, finds that she adores her job as secretary-cum-girl-Friday to New York's top private eye, the tough-talking Tommy Fortuna. But when Viv finds a body in the office and Tommy disappears--right after taking on a sensitive assignment for wealthy businessman Tallmadge Blackstone--Viv must marshal her wits to solve the case before she gets bumped off. Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man, Emily J. Edwards's debut and Girl Friday Mystery series opener, takes readers on a highly enjoyable romp through 1950s Manhattan in the company of a plucky heroine.

The narrative, told in Viv's snappy first-person voice, jumps from the Chelsea boardinghouse where Viv lives with several girlfriends to the posh Upper East Side residence of the Blackstone family. As she befriends (somewhat to her own surprise) Blackstone's grown daughter, Tallulah, Viv digs for clues as to who attacked the mystery man, why Tommy skipped town and whether the two things are related. Included in the mix are Viv's housemates and several cops, ranging from the handsome Alan Leary to the disagreeable Detective Jake Lawson, each with their own means and methods for solving the case.

Edwards packs her narrative with plenty of mid-century detail, from Viv's saddle shoes and smart dresses to the Cadillac convertible Tallulah takes for a joyride. Though the dialogue sometimes contains one too many hardboiled catchphrases of the '50s, the mystery is satisfyingly twisty. Its conclusion allows both Viv and her readers to savor the pleasures of a case neatly tied up--and to look forward to further adventures. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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