Murder Knocks Twice (Speakeasy Mysteries)

Written by Susanna Calkins
Review by Elisabeth Lenckos

January 1929. While the Chicago winter rages outside, the atmosphere heats up at the Third Door, the speakeasy where Gina Ricci, heroine of this novel, works as a cigarette girl. But although Gina believes she has been offered the job through a friend, the brutal murder of the bar’s photographer and the revelation that she has a connection with him, quickly convinces her otherwise.

As Gina investigates his killing, as well as the stabbing death of her predecessor, she encounters a mysterious, handsome gambler, who offers her his help. Is he to be trusted, and will he aid Gina to resolve the secret of the camera that the murder victim entrusted to her before his death? While Gina delves into the secrets behind the Third Door, she stands in danger of exposing not only the criminal doings of its staff and guests, but of exhuming her own family’s buried, complex past.

Here, Calkins takes a break from her award-winning Lucy Champion London mysteries and travels almost three hundred years into the future—to Prohibition-era Chicago, whose dazzling settings and famous denizens she describes with the same expert attention to historical detail that characterizes her other novels. To quote Virginia Woolf, this novel is a lark and a plunge. Twenties-era Chicago—its bars, shops, and neighborhoods, social and political tensions—is beautifully fleshed out. A treat for fans of Prohibition mysteries and a novel that will fortunately be expanded into a series!