Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Book Club Book Review: Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale

Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club
Julian Leatherdale

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Publication date: 3rd March 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Pages: 400
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty and Lace 

 In the murky world of Kings Cross in 1932, aspiring crime writer Joan Linderman and her friend and flatmate Bernice Becker live the wild bohemian life, a carnival of parties and fancy-dress artists' balls.

One Saturday night, Joan is thrown headfirst into a real crime when she finds Ellie, her neighbour, murdered. To prove her worth as a crime writer and bring Ellie's killer to justice, Joan secretly investigates the case in the footsteps of Sergeant Lillian Armfield.

But as Joan digs deeper, her list of suspects grows from the luxury apartment blocks of Sydney's rich to the brothels and nightclubs of the Cross's underclass.

Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club is a riveting noir crime thriller with more surprises than even novelist Joan bargained for: blackmail, kidnapping, drug-peddling, a pagan sex cult, undercover cops, and a shocking confession.

After reading the blurb I really thought I would love this story of 1930’s Kings Cross. The Cross had such an eclectic mix of people in its community in the 30’s. Living as neighbours were showgirls, prostitutes, the well to do, those down on their luck, artists, gays, transvestites and the bohemian set. This mix gives for some great story telling.

Julian Leatherdale centres his story on the ideals and philosophies of the bohemian artist groups of the time. Although a purely fictional tale there are mentions of some of the greats of the era and a few historical events of note at that time.

Joan Linderman, a journalist and wannabe crime writer, falls in with the bohemians and their drugs, sex and alcohol parties via flamboyant flatmate Bernice, a successful novelist and poet.

When a tenant at their boarding house is found murdered, Joan decides to start her own investigation and at the same time collect ideas for her crime novel.

Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club is largely a character driven story and I felt the murder mystery played second fiddle to the politics of the time and the sex, drugs, partying and dark underbelly of the cross.

I felt the end wrapped up too neatly and the twist was so left field it left me dazed.

Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club will appeal to Historical Fiction readers who enjoy the true historical side of the genre.


Photo credit: Goodreads
 Julian Leatherdale’s first love was the theatre. On graduation from a theatre studies degree at the University of NSW, he wrote lyrics for four satirical cabarets and a two-act musical. He discovered a passion for popular history as a staff writer, researcher and photo editor for Time-Life’s Australians At War series. He later researched and co-wrote two Film Australia-ABC documentaries Return to Sandakan and The Forgotten Force shown on the ABC and overseas. He was an image researcher at the State Library of NSW before joining the NSW Cabinet Office writing policy briefs for the Premier. For some years he was the public relations manager for an international hotel school in the Blue Mountain. 
Julian sadly passed away on 22nd April 2020 after a short illness.

This review is from the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
@beautyandlacemag #beautyandlacebookclub 

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