In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family's vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he's found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he's wrong. Orphaned young, Leah's been acting since she was a toddler.
Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition - with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she's let go from her job, Oliver's offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There's only one problem: Leah's act won't fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie's disappearance.
Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.
"Starred Review. The story is engrossing, the characters satisfyingly larger than life, and one can only hope for an encore from the smart, feisty, and talented heroine." - Publishers Weekly
"Historian Miley, winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, presents a colorfully detailed mystery that partially succeeds and a heroine whom readers will want to see succeed even more." - Kirkus
"[A] spirited debut Compelling characters, an engaging story line, and a heroine with lots of moxie make this a thoroughly enjoyable read." - Booklist
"Miley shows a deft touch and sets a blistering pace in her debut novel. Leah Randall/Jessie Carr leaps off the pages in this 'Roaring Twenties' period piece that drips with bathtub gin, truck-size cars, outsize personalities, money, high stakes and enough twists, turns and sleights of hand to keep one reading late into the night Simply put, this book is FUN." - David Baldacci
"Mary Miley has delivered a tale that lures us into the dangerous underworld of Prohibition: rum smugglers, bootleggers, and the glamorous lost realm of vaudeville a realm so real that we can almost smell the greasepaint. The Impersonator is an exciting debut!" - Katherine Neville, New York Times bestselling author of The Eight
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Rated of 5
Leah/Jesse is such a fun, quirky and lovable character. First person narrations are sometimes hard to pull off but it works so well in this story. Just pure fun, a romp through the twenties and vaudeville. We even get to meet a young Jack Benny, and a few others who at the time had top acts on the circuit. Dressing rooms, theaters, the life of those in the business, and one has to admire their grit because there were so many acts it was hard to stay on top. Good story, fast moving, some wonderful characters, this one is a delight.
Mary Miley is the winner of the 2012 Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. She worked at Colonial Williamsburg, taught American history at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirteen years, and has published extensively in history and travel. The Impersonator is her first novel. Miley lives in Richmond, Virginia.
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