Summary (from Goodreads):
“In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family’s vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he’s wrong. Orphaned young, Leah’s been acting since she was a toddler.
Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she’s let go from her job, Oliver’s offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There’s only one problem: Leah’s act won’t fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie’s disappearance.
Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.”
This was an incredibly fun novel. I love the fact that it features vaudeville and speakeasies. I wasn’t too familiar with vaudeville and my knowledge of Prohibition is basically incredibly limited (although I want to learn more) and I immediately loved Leah/Jessie. She’s got intelligence and strength for days.
I also love the way that she falls in love with her family but is also still homesick for vaudeville. It’s literally the only life she knew, and those people were her family before she inserted herself into the Carrs’ lives. (Fun fact: several famous people make cameos in this.)
I also love the fact that Leah is definitely not Jessie. There’s no amnesia or revelations that she and Jessie were twins and one was stolen away, never to be spoken of again.
I’m not a huge fan of the ending, but that’s a minor thing. There’s a sequel that I’m ridiculously excited to read (hopefully within the next couple weeks).
If you want something fun to read, this is for you. Recommended.