The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: May 9th 2017
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Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part, transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…
When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool.
Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago.
With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…
Set in 1930’s Los Angeles, this book is about Irene Glasson, a reporter who stumbles on a dead body at the Burning Cove Hotel while chasing a big story. The hotel is owned by former magician Oliver Ward, and it’s a celebrity hot spot where all the biggest actors come to enjoy some privacy (carefully curated and strategically interrupted “privacy,” of course – how do you think celebrities kept people talking before Instagram and Twitter?). Oliver is understandably not thrilled about the murder, both because of the negative publicity it might bring to his hotel and because he’s a genuinely decent guy who doesn’t like that someone got killed. Since both Irene and Oliver have a vested interest in figuring out what is going on, they start to work together a bit. Naturally, this draws them closer and brings danger to their door, and it brings to light some of Irene’s own dark secrets.
I know this book wasn’t perfect, but boy did I enjoy the hell out of it! I really, really loved the setting. For me, 1930’s LA was an ideal setting for a romance, because it feels distant but still familiar at the same time. We have enough photographs and films that we can visualize the fashion, the cars, the type of actors described. I 100% pictured Irene as a young Katherine Hepburn, fast talking, acerbic wit, brilliant mind, and classy elegance. And setting it in LA, where the film industry was growing by leaps and bounds, where the young and the lost arrived hoping to make it big, was so smart. I don’t know much about the cultural or social history of that time period, but it felt realistic that LA would be the kind of place where morals were a little looser, where supervision was a little less strict, and where a woman like Irene could make it on her own. I was enthralled.
I thought Irene was a great character, but I was in love with Oliver. He was such a lovely, kind man. He took care of all his employees and was serious about his role as their caretaker, and the devotion they all had for him made it clear they cared for him right back. Plus, he was a magician! The job gave him a deep understanding of human nature, and it was one reason he was such a natural at catering to the rich and famous. He was a great match for Irene, too, because he didn’t stomp all over her independence.
Unfortunately, I thought we could have used a little more time for Irene and Oliver to get to know each other. I felt like Irene trusted him a little too easily, especially given that she was hiding some pretty heavy secrets. I enjoyed meeting Oliver’s inventor uncle, but he got so little page time that he wasn’t even close to a fleshed out character, which was a missed opportunity.
Despite the imperfections, I had a great time reading this book. I hope Quick, or any other other author, sets more books in this time period because I didn’t get nearly enough of it!
Grade: 4 out of 5