A fun YA mystery that’s good for adults too…
I hadn’t realized that The Starlet Letter was a young adult mystery when I requested a review copy. But that didn’t really matter too much – it was still a fun mystery with an engaging pair of protagonists, and a really nicely developed historical background. Vivian (Viv) and Viola (Lala) are twin daughters on the last remaining branch of the Van der Beeck family tree – a family that has always had a bit of an odd kick in their gallop. Not for the Van der Beeck family a sedate mansion on the Upper East Side – instead they have Canary House, at 63 Central Park West – and, even worse, it’s been turned into a rooming house due to the Great Crash of 1929.
Which is all well-and-good, until their newest boarder, former Ziegfeld Follies dancer Babs Le Roy disappears, and Viv and Lala decide to take a role in the investigations. Although Viv and Lala are identical in appearance, they are far from the same in personality. Lala is the bookish one, constantly viewing the case as a riff on one of her favorite books, The Scarlet Letter, while Viv is regarded by Lala as the outgoing one who knows everything. But luckily, their skills seem to mesh, and although it’s a close-run thing at the end, they figure out what happened and why.
All-in-all, this is a fun YA mystery, and is actually not a bad cozy mystery for anyone, young adult or not. And, as I mentioned way back at the beginning, the author, Julie Mathison, has done a fine job of the historical background too, with a nicely drawn portrait of the not-quite-yet-post-Depression era. I try to keep star-flation in check a little bit by giving five stars only to really top reads – books that I will go back and re-read, and re-read again. And The Starlet Letter isn’t quite that. But it is an engaging read, so it gets four stars – which in my schema is still a strong recommendation to read the book, especially if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted, clean, cozy mystery. And it definitely was enjoyable enough that I’ll also be keeping an eye out for the next in the series, which hopefully is on the way, since there are a few little hooks left that need resolving! And finally, my thanks to Starr Creek Press for the advance review copy!