The Jazz Club Spy

Book Review

The Jazz Club Spy by Roberta Rich
Historical Fiction | Spy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reader’s Thoughts:

When you read a lot of historical fiction set in the late 1930s and early 1940s, it can be difficult to find stories that feel fresh. This was not a problem for The Jazz Club Spy. The book opens with an absolutely heartwrenching and gripping chapter as our main character, Giddy, hides from a deadly pogrom in her Russian village. This unique and raw opening scene gripped me immediately, and provided a strong emotional backstory and motivation for a gusty and determined main character.

Giddy and her family emigrate to America, and fast-forward several years, we find Giddy working as a cigarette girl in a Manhattan jazz club. Giddy’s character is smart and tenacious and has all the independence of someone forced to grow up too soon. She’s determined to better her life and start her own cosmetics business, but there’s also a naivety and innocence about her that can lead others to take advantage.

When Giddy spots a man from her past, she is determined to track him down and seek revenge. Teaming up with a handsome government agent from the jazz club, Giddy takes on the unexpected role of spy, getting caught up in a plot bigger than she could have imagined.

The nightclub scenes within this story were well down. The descriptions were vivid and lively, and you could really feel the atmosphere come to life. Giddy’s job and her friendships within the nightclub made for a fascinating storyline, and I loved the dynamics and relationships between Giddy and those close to her.

The spy aspect of the novel, however, was where the story took on a bit more of a stretch and required some suspension of disbelief. The second half of the novel took a more “expected” turn for a historical mystery. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t a fun or interesting read. It was! But it also meant that some of the more unique elements (that initially made this book stand out) got a little lost later on.

The Jazz Club Spy had a good mix of emotion, serious moments, and history but mixed with a fun, spy thriller plotline. For fans of historical mysteries, this book has an intriguing premise and a fascinating main character.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Recommended for:

Fans of historical mysteries

This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book:

New York, 1939 Giddy Brodsky knows she’s lucky to have a job as a cigarette girl at a Manhattan jazz club, but she dreams of opening her own beauty shop and lifting her family out of poverty. The Brodskys have lived cheek to jowl in the Lower East Side tenements since they came to America nineteen years ago, fleeing a deadly pogrom in their Russian village. But they continue to face prejudice, especially with the rise of the fascist organization the American Bund.

Yet Giddy is focused on the future—until she recognizes one of the Cossacks who irrevocably changed her life and the past comes flooding back. Determined to get justice, she enlists the help of Carter van der Zalm, a regular at the jazz club who also happens to be the director with the Department of Immigration at Ellis Island. When Carter discloses that the Cossack is an “undesirable” and may be of interest to the government, Giddy agrees to moonlight as a spy for him.

Not everyone is who they appear to be, and after a shocking betrayal, Giddy finds herself embroiled in a political conspiracy that could bring America into the war in Europe.

From the gritty tenements to the glittering jazz clubs of 1930s New York, The Jazz Club Spy is a thrilling historical novel about a brash young woman who must use all her wits to save the ones she loves.

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