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29 August 2016

Rambling About.. Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance (@maiachance)

Title: Come Hell or Highball
Author: Maia Chance
Publication: 15 September 2015 -- Minotaur Books (St. Martin's Press)
Amazon Description:
31-year-old society matron Lola Woodby has survived her loveless marriage with an unholy mixture of highballs, detective novels, and chocolate layer cake, until, her husband dies suddenly, leaving her his fortune...or so Lola thought. As it turns out, all she inherits from Alfie is a big pile of debt. Pretty soon, Lola and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta, are reduced to hiding out in the secret love nest Alfie kept in New York City. But when rent comes due, Lola and Berta have no choice but to accept an offer made by one of Alfie's girls-on-the-side: in exchange for a handsome sum of money, the girl wants Lola to retrieve a mysterious reel of film for her. It sounds like an easy enough way to earn the rent money. But Lola and Berta realize they're in way over their heads when, before they can retrieve it, the man currently in possession of the film reel is murdered, and the reel disappears. On a quest to retrieve the reel and solve the murder before the killer comes after them next, Lola and Berta find themselves navigating one wacky situation after another in high style and low company.
Charming, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny, Maia Chance's Come Hell or Highball introduces a sparkling new voice in crime fiction.
First Line: In all fairness, my husband was the one who should've been murdered.

Faves on 4s:
p14: The good news, it turned out, was that Alfie hadn't actually written a will, so everthing went to me. The bad news was, there wasn't a nickel to inherit.
p74: We passed the servants' staircase. We made it halfway down a hallway that led to the kitchen. Suddenly, a bang! rang out behind the kitchen door.
p124: You probably can't be a gangster kingpin without succumbing to a certain amount of deranged paranoia.
p164: "Back off," Berta said. She pressed the pistol's barrel into Jimmy's lapel and pushed him away. "I am not that sort of lady."
p234: I kicked myself for asking. But then, Berta could write a laundry list of all my foibles, yet I knew next to nothing about her. She was a walled fortress.


This past Friday I used the glorious Come Hell or Highball for my Book Beginnings & Friday 56 post. At the time I had just started it and was already confident in comparing Lola to Phryne Fisher. It didn't take long before I was saying to myself "Phryne who?" (Well, not really ... but I think you understand what I'm trying to get at.)

The story opens at the funeral of Lola's husband on May 30, 1923. It's the Roaring Twenties -- the age of Prohibition, silent movies, gangsters, flappers, chorus girls, and high society. Lola and her husband were part of the high society crowd and after his death she began to realize just how much a part of the gangsters and chorus girls crowd he was. One of the chorus girls in question offers to pay Lola to retrieve a film roll for her from one the high society types and, since her husband had left her with nothing but a pile of debt and a secret apartment love-nest, she and her cook Berta take the case. It sounded easy enough if it hadn't been for the dead bodies piling up, Lola being suspected of murder, and the private detective who appears to be on their heels at every turn. (And that's only in the first half!)

I love Lola. In an age where the flapper figure of having very little figure is all the rage, she keeps her curves. Forget dieting -- give that girl some steak, potatoes and chocolate. And Prohibition? Pshaw. Highballs are as important to her as coffee is to me. Luckily, she has her cook and partner-in-crime Berta. When Lola lost everything, Berta refused to leave her. In fact, she pretty much blackmailed Lola into letting her stick around and we're all better off for it!

And Ralph? Yeah, that's one private detective I definitely wouldn't mind following me around "like the little lamb after Mary."

This has all of the hijinx and hilarity that I would expect from an old movie that I would lose myself in on Turner Classic Movies. Hmmmm ... maybe from the early to mid-1950s and helmed by someone like Billy Wilder. Since I can't come up with anyone I would cast now, we'll just hop in thee ol' time machine back to 1955 or so.

Angela Lansbury is Lola ...

Robert Mitchum is Ralph ...

And NOBODY could be Berta except for Jane Darwell ...

Of course, time machines don't really exist so my dream cast will only be in my dreams -- and running through my head with each following book in the series!

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