Publication Date: September 10, 2017
In Coattails and Cocktails: Murder with a Twist by Rumer Haven, it’s 1929 and Silent Film Ingenue. Lottie Landry returns to the home of her adopted parents just outside of Chicago with her intended husband and frequent co-star, Noble Howard. Lottie isn’t sure about the engagement as her affections lie elsewhere. When things with Lottie don’t go his way, Noble threatens to expose what he believes has been going on between his lady love and her adopted father, media mogul Ransom Warne. Will it be a scandal or something more sinister that brings death to the household?
This book was given to me for review by the TBC reviewer request group.
Haven knows how to paint a setting. Delicately placed in the cultured country outside of Chicago is a palatial estate with gleaming tennis courts and richly paneled rooms with all of the hidden nooks featuring modem technology. Ice in the library bar! What a luxury! At the center of this roaring 1920s, the topography is a bombshell with a tragic backstory, Lottie Landry. Raised in France until the death of her parents and given to a mother that never wanted children at a formative age, Lottie has always relied on men and knows how to use them though she can’t always control them. Lottie has good intentions and is seeking happiness through success. Will she find what she’s looking for and wind up in a relationship that will beat down all that’s good inside of her?
There are perspective shifts in Coattails and Cocktails, but the true star is always Lottie. Period references are plentiful. Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, current political events and the birth of the talkies are mentioned to further the opulence of an era soon to end. Ranson Warne is framed as a rival of the great William Randolf Hurst. Noble Howard is the silent film Lothario who is charming on screen and menacing behind the scenes. He is devious and threatened by everyone that might stand in the way of his self-appointed goals. Haven develops her characters in a way realistic to the storyline even if everyone is perhaps a bit obsessed with Lottie.
Coattails and Cocktails is a book that really drags at first. In setting the scene and establishing the relationships between the characters, readers are a third of the way into the book before anyone dies. It would have been nice to have at least one character as an observer not really invested in the actress’ success or failure. Noble is in love with her, Ransom dotes on her, Rex is living in a memory of a little girl on the back of his ice truck teaching him French phrases in her light accent. One woman suspects Lottie of an affair with her husband, while the other is doing everything she can to connect her with the man with whom she arrived so that Lottie can have a little bit of happiness.
Haven’s writing style is heavily detailed but technically flawless. Shifts in perspective are easy to follow and while the story may drag, it’s due to style choice and not the lack of writing skill. As much as Haven is writing a mystery, she always aims for the literary genre.
So do I recommend Coattails and Cocktails? I do. The brilliance of Haven’s historical fiction style and her knowledge of the era will have few fiction rivals. If you have a few hours and enjoy historical fiction, buy Coattails and Cocktails and give it a shot. Be sure to let me know what you think.
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