Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock (A Girl Friday Mystery)
Historical Mystery/Female Sleuth
3rd in Series
Setting – New York
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2023)
Hardcover : 272 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639105220
ISBN-13 : 978-1639105229
Kindle ASIN : B0BV67331X
New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine and Tommy Fortuna have a lot of resolutions for the new year—whether it’s continuing to build up their detective agency or planning their wedding, the two are looking forward to the future. On their way to Times Square to celebrate, the two witness a brutal stabbing. When Tommy tries to chase down the culprit, Viviana tries her best to save the man. She’s unsuccessful, but Viviana hears his final words: a whispered apology to an unknown friend.
Clues are hard to come by, with the only leads being the fraught last words and a few nondescript matchbooks in the victim’s overcoat. Their investigation is halted when Detective Jack Lawson of the New York Police Department arrives, immediately ruffling Viviana’s feathers and bumping chests with Tommy, who he nearly arrested for murder just months earlier. The two know there’s more to the story, but there are other pressing matters at hand.
Clients are clamoring to get the detectives to work on their cases: a man is being blackmailed by a criminal who only writes in code, Tommy’s old friend needs his fiancée tailed, and an investment banker has mysteriously vanished. To add to their workload, Viviana knows something strange is happening at her boarding house. Will all of this—plus planning for a wedding—be too much for one Girl Friday?
New Year’s Eve doesn’t go as planned for Viviana Valentine and Tommy Fortuna. Instead of celebrating the event with the masses, they are on the scene for a beastly stabbing. Viviana tries to save the man but fails. Tommy tries to catch the killer but he fails as well. When Detective Jack Lawson arrives he believes he has a mugging on his hands but after hearing the victim’s final words Viviana and Tommy think it was murder. They don’t have a lot of evidence to work with but they vow to get to the truth.
In addition to the murder, the private detectives have several other cases on the plates. An investment banker has gone missing and his boss wants him found. An old friend of Tommy’s thinks his fiancee’ is cheating on him and wants her followed. And another man is being blackmailed and all the demands are written in codes that need to be ciphered. The couple is also trying to plan their wedding while a place for them to live at the boardinghouse after the nuptials is being renovated.
Can “Dollface” and “Tommy-boy” juggle their personal life with all their cases? Or will their clocks run out?
We continue to get to know all the characters better in this book. Tommy’s background was not only a surprise to me but to Viviana as well. How she reacts reveals more of her backstory too. The people at the boardinghouse are more involved in this story. Betty who lost her job as a nurse is Tommy and Vivana’s new secretary. School teacher Dottie along with another teacher strive to solve the codes in one of the 4 cases Tommy and Viviana are working on. Mrs. K runs the boardinghouse with the help of her son Oleks. Both seem to have a heavy weight on their shoulders. I really appreciated the time the author took to give these characters more depth. I was engaged before but even more so now.
I was surprised by all the cases Tommy and Viviana were working and to be truthful at times it did get a little confusing, especially with all that was going on in the character’s personal lives. At first, I thought there would be a string that would tie the cases together in some way but that wasn’t the case. The murder mystery was my main focus and that was very well done. Two of the others were very interesting and I enjoyed seeing them come to their conclusion. The fourth case had me really intrigued but when it came to its end I was a little upset. I was looking for something really complex and it wasn’t although the payment received was nice.
Ms. Edwards does a fantastic job of pulling her readers to 1950s New York. Her words set each scene vividly with descriptions of the place, the weather, and the fashions. The character’s dialogues ring true. It is easy to imagine all three books in the series as old-time movies.
Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock was a fun and entertaining read but I did enjoy the previous two books in the series more. That being said I am excited to see what happens next for Viviana, Tommy, their friends, and their new secretary.
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About the Author
Emily J. Edwards is the author of the Girl Friday series. She earned her degree in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College and took the long road to becoming an author, working for over a decade as a wine and spirits journalist, radio producer, and podcaster. She currently lives with her husband and several quadrupeds in Connecticut.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”