ABOUT THE BOOK:
Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she's let go from her job, Oliver's offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There's only one problem: Leah's act won't fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie's disappearance.
Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.
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The Impersonator by Mary Miley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a 2013 Minotaur publication.
The roaring twenties, vaudeville, and a puzzling mystery – a winning combination!
When, Leah, a Vaudeville performer, is approached by a gentleman, who introduces himself as her ‘Uncle Oliver’, and swears she is the spitting image of his niece, Jessie Carr, she blows him off, thinking he’s a creep.
But he persists in his pursuit, finally revealing that dear Jessie disappeared when she was fourteen years old, and that if she doesn’t show up to claim her generous inheritance soon, it will be forfeited. Leah, as an actress, could impersonate Jessie and secure the fortune, which she and Oliver would share. Initially. Leah refuses the offer, but shortly thereafter, she finds herself down on her luck and in dire straits. Desperate, Leah contacts Oliver and agrees to play the part.
However, once she arrives at Cliff House, she begins to think the real Jessie might have met with foul play. Not only that, her cousins, who stand to lose a fortune, have promised to prove she’s a fake. With the deaths of two other girls nearby, Leah begins to think the cases are connected to Jessie somehow. She must also keep her wits about her and avoid making any grave errors until the estate signs over the inheritance.
Is Jessie still out there somewhere, or has something terrible happened to her? Will Leah manage to pull off the performance of a lifetime, or will she be exposed and arrested for fraud… or worse?
This book has been sitting on my Kindle for at least six years!! I’ve been looking through my device recently, trying to read a few books that slid down the TBR list and off my radar over the years. This book stuck out because I’ve been dying to read more historical fiction lately, but all the new releases tend to follow a current trend and there are few choices beyond that right now. However, that unfortunate situation did force me to look through my older titles for something to satisfy my craving, and as a result, I have found some real gems- this being one of them!
The 1920s is one of my favorite historical settings, and the Vaudeville theme also sounded intriguing. To put the cherry on the cake, there’s a mystery to solve- a cold case, at that!
The plot is not totally original, as there have been other books, and even real -life cases in which someone claimed to be a long lost relative to gain access to a title, power or wealth. However, the author did a great job of making the story uniquely hers, especially when it came to characterizations. Leah is a great heroine, full of spunk and enthusiasm and one couldn’t help but root for her.
While the culprit is rather obvious, there are several nice twists and surprises along the way, and I loved the way the story ended.
As I suspected, this book was a good fit for me. Why I didn’t get around to reading it ages ago, I’m not sure. But, better late than never! But the best news is that there are at least three other books in this series! I can’t wait to see what Leah will get up to next!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I'm an Army brat who has lived in Virginia most of my adult life. I received my BA and MA in history from the College of William and Mary and taught American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirteen years. I am the author of almost 200 magazine articles, most