Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets (Jazz Age Mysteries #2)
My rating: Mystery
by Ellen Mansoor Collier
Source: Publisher (direct)
Bathing Beauties, the second Jasmine Cross mystery, sees young journalist Jazz tasked with writing about Galveston's annual beauty pageant. To begin with she's unimpressed by the assignment (and the pageant), but when a couple of female corpses are discovered, she spots the opportunity for a proper scoop that the city would prefer to keep hidden. And as she gets to know the bathing beauties on a more personal level, she begins to understand their motivations, and to see them as people rather than as mere bodies on display.
The first two novels in this series are fairly independent, and the only spoiler for Flappers found in these pages is that there was a successful resolution to the case - which can hardly be considered a surprise in what is basically a cozy mystery novel. Although there is a small amount of character/relationship development, I think it would be fine to read them out of order.
I really like Jazz, she's a great character and determined to make the most of things, although she has to put up with a lot in her sexist, old-fashioned (well, it is set in the roaring 20s!) working environment. I'll confess I was a little less enamoured of Agent Burton, who provides the romantic interest, in this novel. After the first book I was keen to see James and Jazz's relationship progress, but he says some things to her in this book which reveal a bit of sexist prejudice beneath the surface, and he'll have to work extra hard for her affections if I'm to forgive him.
Overall, these are perfect light-reading material for mystery fans - an intriguing historical setting, great characters, and plenty of plot to keep you turning the pages.