Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale

ladies goddess clubTitle: Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club

Author: Julian Leatherdale

Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 3rd March 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Murder and blackmail, family drama and love, all set within the shady underbelly of 1930s Kings Cross and its glamorous fringe.

‘Crime’s not a woman’s business, Joanie. It’s not some bloody game.’

In the murky world of Kings Cross in 1932, aspiring crime writer Joan Linderman and her friend and flatmate Bernice Becker live the wild bohemian life, a carnival of parties and fancy-dress artists’ balls.

One Saturday night, Joan is thrown headfirst into a real crime when she finds Ellie, her neighbour, murdered. To prove her worth as a crime writer and bring Ellie’s killer to justice, Joan secretly investigates the case in the footsteps of Sergeant Lillian Armfield.

But as Joan digs deeper, her list of suspects grows from the luxury apartment blocks of Sydney’s rich to the brothels and nightclubs of the Cross’s underclass.

Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club is a riveting noir crime thriller with more surprises than even novelist Joan bargained for: blackmail, kidnapping, drug-peddling, a pagan sex cult, undercover cops, and a shocking confession.

From the shadows of bohemian and underworld Kings Cross, who will emerge to tell the real story?

~*~

In 1932, bohemian life collides with the Great Depression, and Joan, an aspiring writer, and her friend, Bernice are at the heart of it in a boarding house in King’s Cross. Amidst all the balls and parties, there is a dark underbelly of crime linked to underworld razor gangs, and Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh. Whilst all this is bubbling along, Joan’s neighbour, Ellie is murdered, and one of Sydney’s only female police officers, Special Sergeant Lillian Armfield, is called in to help with the investigation. As the case moves along, Joan’s determination to solve the case herself leads her into danger, and into the path of Hugh, a man who associates with the Communists and has his own secrets. As Joan continues to investigate despite being warned away by the police and other threats, she will uncover several shocks and secrets that she never thought possible.

It seems that mysteries set in the 1930s have been a common appearance on my blog these past couple of weeks, and a staple of these mysteries now and over the years has been the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – which each book has dealt with uniquely and from different perspectives, and it’s interesting to imagine that even though the fictional characters inhabit different series, that just maybe in the fictional world, they were all present at the opening usurped by de Groot, but were unaware of each other’s presence. Whilst this is just a small scene in this novel, not only is it a significant turning point in the plot, but it also positions the  novel in a specific time and place, and allows the reader to gain some historical insight and context beyond the Great Depression and the razor gangs, all of which intersect to create a political and social backdrop to the murder that is being investigated.

It is a complex mystery, where each strand is slowly revealed and at times, might seem unrelated but when they come together, bring to life a remarkable and thrilling mystery. There are things hinted at that are cleverly revealed at the end, but at the same time, that when it is revealed, feels like everything was pointing to it much earlier, but had legitimate explanations. In doing so, Leatherdale has created spectacularly misleading characters who not only does Joan find believable in what we are told, but the reader does as well.

It is a very well-thought out mystery, and I felt delivered the right information at the right time. Historical information and bits of context are continuously peppered throughout, yet it is also not overdone. In fact, I do not think anything is overdone, as there is nothing unnecessarily described or used, and I loved the way Joan’s story was peppered throughout and the way the real case she was caught up in started to appear within the novel she was writing. The combination of the mystery and Joan’s aspirations were integrated well, as was the uncertainty of stability in employment and housing during the 1930s.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and think readers of historical fiction and mystery will enjoy it. Including real life historical figures creates an authenticity that allows a great immersion in the world of the book and sparks an interest in this history beyond what is often taught at school.

My 2020 Reading Challenges

2020 Reading Challenge

In 2020, I have decided to take part in four specific reading challenges, and one overall challenge. The overall challenge will be my total books read between these four challenges, reviewing and my work as a quiz writer, and I am aiming to read 165 books in total. Below are the other challenges I am taking part in. Many categories will be easy to fill and I have books in mind that will fill multiple categories, though as usual, will aim as much as possible to read something different for each one, even if this means I end up with multiple entries for some. Some categories, like the audiobook one, may not be met, as I typically don’t read audiobooks – I tend to let anything I listen to like radio, music or podcasts fade into the background whilst working and I fell this would happen tenfold with an audiobook and I would not get much out of it.

Below are the blank lists and cards for the challenges, ready for me to start filling in from tomorrow. It should be interesting, as some are quite broad and others very specific whilst some fall somewhere in between. I’m sure I’ll fill as many as possible, as I did this year, 2019, and will aim to review as many as possible.

My December, yearly wrap and 2019 challenge wraps will appear during the first week of 2020.

My challenges:

 

modern mrs darcy

The Modern Mrs Darcy – signed up via a blog and will aim to read as many as I can off of this list of twelve. Instead of doing the PopSugar one this year, I have opted for this and another as the PopSugar one is getting very, very specific and I fear that I would struggle to find some of the necessary books, and I’d rather do a challenge where I can fit the book I read to a category in a more general way, rather than trying to force it too, or not being able to find the right book to fit a category. This only has thirteen categories, so will be easier and some may end up with multiple reads.
THE MODERN MRS. DARCY
2020 Reading Challenge
a book published the decade you were born:
a debut novel:
a book recommended by a source you trust:
a book by a local author:
a book outside your (genre) comfort zone:
a book in translation:
a book nominated for an award in 2020:
a re-read:
a classic you didn’t read in school:
three books by the same author:
1.
2.
3.

The Nerd Daily – this one has a few more specific categories, but they can likely be stretched and will align with other challenges. The good thing with this one, with categories like New York Times bestseller, is that it doesn’t specify a year, or genre, so is open to interpretation. I like challenges like this, as it gives freedom to read without worrying about anything too specific and also, it allows me to fit in my review and work reading into these challenges, which helps when trying to fit a book to a category that can seem overly prescriptive, but is often easier than it seems.

2020-Reading-Challenge nerd daily

The Nerd Daily 2020 Challenge
1. Author Starting with A
2. Female Author
3. Purchased on Holidays
4. 2020 Film Adaptation
5. Fantasy or SciFi
6. Recommended by Us (Group)
7. Under 200 pages
8. Six Word Title
9. Written by two authors
10. Mystery/thriller
11. Green Cover
12. Recommended by a friend
13. Set in the past
14. 2019 Goodreads Choice Winner
15. A book you never finished
16. Protagonist starting with H
17. Reread
18. Non-fiction
19. Released in February
20. Part of a duology
21. New York times best seller
22. Recommended by family
23. Over 500 pages
24. An award-winning book
25. Orange cover
26. Bookstore recommended
27. A number in the title
28. An audiobook
29. Debut author
30. Inspired my mythology/folklore
31. A retelling
32. A one-word title
33. Bought based on cover
34. Author starting with M
35. Start a new series
36. A book released in 2019
37. Male author
38. 2020 TV Adaptation
39. A book gifted to you
40. Author with a hyphenated name
41. Released in September
42. Purchased years ago
43. A standalone
44. Author with the same initials
45. Told from two perspectives
46. Romance or thriller
47. A protagonist starting with S
48. Two-word title
49. Set in a foreign country
50. Animal featured in cover
51. Written by your favourite author
52. Based or inspired by a true story

Australian Women Writers Challenge – I’ve done this every year for the past three or four years and am also the Children’s/YA editor – which means I collate the monthly and yearly reviews into a nice little reporting post for each month throughout the year. In 2020, we will be combining the two, so I need to find a work around to include at least four of each. As this is an area I studied and work in now, I enjoy putting these together, and writing my own reviews on the books.

AWW2020Australian Women Writers Challenge – 25

Book Bingo – 2020 marks the third year I’ve done book bingo with Theresa and Amanda. On 2018, I managed to fill out two bingo cards – I was overly eager and didn’t want to forget to add anything, so I had at least fifty books that year in book bingo. Last year, we had 30 squares to fill – which meant a few double ups throughout the year. Both of those years, we were posting every second Saturday in each month to make sure we filled the card. This year, we’ve gone sparkly and fancy – and have twelve very general categories (after certain debacles and issues with overly specific categories, we decided to do it this way). So one post a month, on the second Saturday of the month so we can keep on top of this, our other challenges and work.

 

Book Bingo 2020 clean.jpg

Themes of culture
Themes of inequality
Themes of Crime and Justice
Themes of politics and power
About the environment
Prize winning book
Friendship, family and love
Coming of age
Set in a time of war
Set in a place you dream of visiting
Set in an era you’d love to travel back in time to
A classic you’ve never read before

So those are my 2020 challenges! I hope to fill in as many as possible and will aim to post updates throughout the year.