“Book Review: Innocence Lost”
Reviewed by Joe Walters
Bootleggers, a ghost, and an independent woman fighting for a better world, Innocence Lost sets up what is sure to become an excellent new historical mystery series.
In 1924 Philadelphia, crime rules the city. And notorious bootleggers like Mickey Duffy don’t take kindly to those who get in their way—even when they’re his wife’s best friends. As the first novel in the Bootleggers’ Chronicles series, Innocence Lost thrives in its character growth, disastrous downfalls, and plenty of secrets to keep us guessing.
Maggie Barnes has just about everything that you’re looking for in a lead character: bravery, her back against a wall, and something big to strive for. As a widow in a backwards time, she struggles to make ends meet financially and to be there for her young son. But when she brings in a group of lodgers to help generate income, she discovers that the extra money might come with more than just a few complications.
And that’s not even the half of it.
Following the death of one of her son’s friends, Maggie quickly realizes that the police would rather protect bootleggers than solve the kid’s mysterious death. When she finally meets an inspector who’s willing to fight for justice and find the truth in the case, she knows her job is only just beginning. Only problem? The inspector’s been dead for years.
Maggie and the ghost of Frank Geyer set out to solve this mystery and give us something truly remarkable to pay attention to in Innocence Lost. Decter demonstrates her skill for introducing these ghostly aspects through pace and mystery, and I couldn’t be happier that this is the direction that she took us in.
Innocence Lost has a ton of great things going for it. First of all, Maggie Barnes is likeable from her very first appearance. She is placed in a difficult situation and does everything she can to escape it on her own. Once you get to know her, I’m sure you’ll be standing right beside me shaking your pom-poms and twirling your flappers, ready to cheer her on.
But perhaps the best aspect of this novel is the atmosphere of 1924 Philadelphia. The world is laid out for us so gracefully and thoroughly by Sherilyn Decter. Thanks to realistic dialogue and the author’s evident ability to paint scenes and situations, the reader has no problem understanding what it’s like living in this place at this time.
While I definitely enjoyed my time with this novel, I also felt a bit disappointed that we didn’t spend more time with the ghostly investigation. Frank Geyer has all the tools to really shine as a minor character, but it seems that we won’t be getting that climax until the later books in the series.
Innocence Lost really does offer a truly enjoyable reading experience. Filled with realistic characters and believable motivation, I went happily along for the novel’s ride, letting the Philadelphia Prohibition period take over. This novel would be an excellent choice for all those interested in historical mystery, crime, and a dash of ghostly escapades.
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