Through the 1920s and Into Albuquerque
Karil Bovée’s Grace in the Wings
Grace in the Wings
Published by a local press and written by a local author, Grace in the Wings takes its readers on a train ride from New York City to Los Angeles with an eventful stop in Albuquerque. This highly entertaining book offers tropes from romance, murder mystery, film noir, melodrama and historical fiction. If you have seen the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris, you might appreciate the comparison. The main character, Grace, is a pleasantly naïve young lady who finds herself in a world of 1920s fame and glamour without really understanding how she got there. Of course, Midnight in Paris involves something mystical that sends its main character to different eras. There is no magic in Grace in the Wings, but Grace’s narration reads as if a girl from the 21st century was tossed into theater life in New York City in the year 1920. In other words, the setting hardly takes away from the reader’s ability to relate to the characters. The characters themselves have a contemporary appeal.
Perhaps I could be clearer about whether or not Grace really understands how she ended up where she is. It is not as if she suffers from some sort of memory loss, but there is a vagueness to her past that gets unraveled throughout the story. She was orphaned at a young age along with her sister, Sophia. The girls were saved when a famed producer of the Ziegfeld Theatre took Grace and Sophia under his wing (an obvious pun on the title). Whereas Sophia becomes a star, Grace is more comfortable sewing costumes and aspires to become a designer. Grace’s aspirations are compromised after Sophia’s mysterious death. In no time at all, Grace becomes the theater’s new leading lady. Indebted to her producer since childhood, Grace feels forced to oblige. Grace is sent to Hollywood to promote her new role, but she sees it as an opportunity to investigate Sophia’s death as a murder (though it was ruled an accident).
Along for the ride is Chet, a dashing lean-muscled gentleman with gray eyes. Chet is both a private investigator on Sophia’s case and Grace’s bodyguard. Between Chet and Grace, there is a budding romance ensnared in the complications of his professional obligations. Readers can expect each of the following all at once: the misunderstandings of a Jane Austen romance, the strange sexual tension between a PI and a desperate dame in a film noir and something reminiscent of Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner’ relationship in The Bodyguard. There is a lot to be appreciated about this mystery novel. For one thing, the stop in Albuquerque offers a delightful conversation about the peculiar cuisine and its exotic spices from both red and green chile. It is also an extremely easy and quick read. I recommend taking it along with you on your next vacation. I would name this book the perfect read for your next trip via Amtrak. You will not be disappointed. The reading is light and the ending is as uplifting as one would expect from a Nicholas Sparks or John Green novel.