cover image Broadway Butterfly

Broadway Butterfly

Sara DiVello. Thomas & Mercer, $28.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-66251-013-7

New York City’s Jazz Age comes roaring to life in this vivid mystery from DiVello (Where in the OM Am I?), which is based on a real unsolved crime. In March 1923, 27-year-old model and “gal about town” Dot King is found dead in her 57th Street apartment, and the murder becomes a tabloid obsession as the investigation stretches on for months. DiVello switches between four points of view: dogged reporter Julie Harpman, the novel’s protagonist; detective John D. Coughlin; Ella Bradford, Dot’s Black maid; and Frances Stotesbury Mitchell, daughter of one of America’s richest men, whose connection to the case emerges gradually. While Julie and detective Coughlin drive the investigation, the story is strongest when it’s focused on Ella, who moved from Jacksonville, Fla., to New York City to escape Jim Crow laws, or Mitchell, who starts out flush with pride in her position at the top of America’s elite. These two women’s lives are torn apart in very different ways by the lengthy murder investigation and relentless newspaper coverage. Despite some pacing issues in the first half, this kaleidoscopic mystery impresses with its thoroughness and poignancy. Fans of historical true crime and stories set in the 1920s will be rapt. Agent: Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce. (Aug.)