It’s 1938, and actress Vivian Witchell has just landed her first big role on a popular radio show called “The Darkness Knows.” Although she has a privileged background and still lives with her mother, a leading light of Chicago society, Viv is determined to succeed in her chosen career. She knows showbiz can be cutthroat, and she doesn’t shy away from competing with her fellow actresses, both for roles and for her handsome costar Graham Yarborough’s attentions. But when a famous actress at the radio station is murdered, Viv learns that the business is even more dangerous than she knew — especially when an anonymous letter hints that she might be the next victim. The police are immediately called to investigate the murder, but the station also calls private detective Charlie Haverman to protect Viv in case the murderer decides to strike again. Charlie wants Viv to stay away from the station and stay out of trouble, but of course Viv has other ideas. Can they unmask the murderer together before Viv or anyone else becomes the next victim?
I really enjoyed this book! The mystery, while not particularly innovative, was solid, and I loved the period setting. Viv is a clever, spunky heroine whose lively narrative voice is lots of fun to follow. I did find her somewhat annoying at times; like many amateur sleuths, she takes far too many risks and races into danger without thinking about the consequences. I also found her attitude toward wealth and privilege to be a bit confusing — she insists she wants to make it on her own, but she doesn’t mind enjoying the benefits that come from living with her rich mother. I hope the issue of social class will be explored a lot more in the sequel(s) that will hopefully follow this book. I also really liked Charlie, although his characterization as a tough, streetwise detective veers toward the stereotypical at times. The banter and chemistry between Viv and Charlie is a highlight of the novel, and I enjoyed their interactions more than the slow unraveling of the whodunit. Overall, if you like the premise of this novel, it’s a very enjoyable debut, and I definitely look forward to continuing with the series.