The Jade Tiger - Review
*I received this E-Arc from Book Sirens. All views expressed are my own.*
The Jade Tiger by E.W. Cooper is an exciting murder mystery that will have you playing the game, Guess Who by Hasbro, detective style. Set in New York 1920, Penelope Harris is dying to start a new life away from her shady past. As a former opera singer turned Shanghai nightclub owner, she's seen and done many questionable things. Between dealing with her murdered husband's death, a blackmailing torch singer, and Thom Lund, the ex-cop who stole her heart, she is ready to wash her hands clean from the infamous Jade Tiger casino. Too bad her past is already waiting for her in New York. When someone murders her swindling blackmailer at an out-of-control party and Thom is accused of the crime, Penelope must face down her darkest memories to prove his innocence.
I enjoyed The Jade Tiger. It's a nice break from all of the Young Adult Fantasy I've been reading as of late. It's a breath of fresh air to know that this book's theme has nothing to do with today's world of problems, and I think that's why I was drawn to the short novel.
Inspired by Jessye Norman's performance of "Habanera" from the opera Carmen, I can see where Cooper got her idea of the story. For those that's never seen the production, Carmen, written by Georges Bizet, is about an infatuated Spanish soldier killing the seductress gypsy in a jealous rage over her love for someone else. The similarities between Carmen, Penelope, and her blackmailer is the glue that helps shape this noir.
Cooper did an excellent job with the world-building. It felt like I was stuck in a black and white picture show. From the dated dialog to the scenery of speakeasy clubs and Prohibitions, Cooper showed off her extensive research into the past. Though small (unless you caught it), I also liked the way Cooper crafted her sentences when describing something. It was simple, yet how she produced her message made a significant impact while reading the paragraphs.
The only small issue I had with the story was the placement and purpose of the background characters. It started to get a little confusing when we got into the thick of the drama. Some people were introduced that I thought would have significance in the story, and there were others where I couldn't remember their roles.
Overall, The Jade Tiger was a good quick read. I'd recommend this novel for anyone who wants to travel back in time and experience the fast-paced, crooked life of the Roaring Twenties. Cooper has already started working on a Penelope Harris series, so stay tuned to see what the mysterious girl is up to next.