Glamour and love in a '50s-era murder mystery
"Nate stood up. He was very still, but I knew from dance how stillness could explode into movement.” That tension, between the threat of violence and the act, is at the heart of Strings Attached, the latest thriller by National Book Award winner Judy Blundell.
Kit Corrigan is a struggling chorus girl in New York City, having fled her home in Rhode Island for a shot at life onstage. It’s 1950, the Korean War is just beginning, and Kit’s ex, Billy, has enlisted in the Army. She’s surprised when Billy’s father, Nate Benedict, offers her a leg up. He provides her with an apartment, tailored clothes and connections leading to bigger and better jobs. In exchange, Kit must keep tabs on Billy and do occasional favors for his dad. Easy enough, right? But Nate Benedict is a lawyer with mob connections, and his favors have potentially fatal consequences.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s something not quite right about how close Billy was with Kit’s brother Jamie. And the family is still smarting from a falling-out that sent their aunt so far away that nobody can find her.
Strings Attached sets a murder mystery, love story and rich family history in a meaty stretch of American history. Between two wars, the anti-Communist blacklists, air-raid drills, automats and a thriving nightclub scene largely run by the Mafia, Blundell weaves a complex story. Readers will get a generous dose of history here, but it's the glamour and mystery, along with concern for Kit and her family, that will keep them hooked. Strings Attached is a winner.