Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: November 8, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
When Jo Winter’s parents send her off to live with her rich cousin on the glittering island of Manhattan, it’s to find a husband and forget about her brother Teddy’s death. But all that glitters is not gold,. Caught up in the swirl of her cousin’s bobbed-hair set—and the men that court them—Jo soon realizes that the talk of marriage never stops, and behind the seemingly boundless gains are illicit business endeavors, gangsters, and their molls. Jo would much rather spend time the handsome but quiet Charles, a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel, than drape herself over a bootlegger. But when she befriends a moll to one of the most powerful men in town, Jo begins to uncover secrets—secrets that threaten an empire and could secure Jo’s freedom from her family. Can her newfound power buy her love? Or will it to ruin Jo, and everyone around her?
SIRENS by Janet Fox is the third book of her Faithful series. I haven't read the previous two books before and it's OK because Faithful is one of those series where the books can be read as stand-alone, telling different stories in different time periods with new characters in every installment. This time JFox takes us to the Roaring 20's with prohibition, speakeasies, flappers and mobsters are running the streets of Manhattan and two girls finding themselves skirting the border of gangster business.
SIRENS is told in flashback with POV's alternating between Josephine Winters and the mob boss' moll, Louise O'Keefe. The story opens with Jo doing a "send off" for her brother, Teddy, who's currently in hiding from Danny and his mob; and Lou being interviewed by the police. Soon we witness Jo's innocuous trip to New York turn dangerous as she slowly learns about her brother Teddy's connection to the mob leading to several deaths involving a lot of dangerous people. Now Jo's became their target as she holds Teddy's secrets and his journals which holds records of every dirty thing the mob asked him to do. The only way she can get out of it alive is if Lou becomes her ally. As Lou and Jo recount the events that led to these deaths and other messy entanglements, they take us on a little side trip discovering the streets of Manhattan where the men were dapper and the ladies fun and dazzling with their fur, fringe and chic bobs.
I happen to like my short hair. I happen to think a girl shouldn't have to fuss with long tresses anymore. I happen to think a girl should be as comfortable in her clothes as a man is in his. She shouldn't have to wear long entangling skirts and confining corsets. I also think a girl has the right to vote, and the right to work for a living.. [Jo Winters]
Jo's voice is the most fun to read, here's a country girl thrown into the fashionable city of Manhattan on a mission to find a husband, reinvent herself, protect her brother's secrets and grieve his disappearance. There's so many changes in Jo's life and JFox captured her metamorphosis from a girl to a woman perfectly. Lou's isn't so bad either, we watch a girl full of dreams and ideals and her transformation to a moll, exciting at first but it was slowly taking its toll on Lou filling her with dread, paranoia and a ton of insecurities. So there was a very good contrast of dark and light here, the innocence of youth and the harsh reality of the price one has to pay for affluence during those times.
For most of the story, SIRENS was skirting the fringes of gangsters and bootleggers and frankly I wish we were let in on the grit of the underworld and not just the glitz and glitter of borrowed wealth and influence. I was really itching for some good 'ol mob story along the lines of Gangster Squad or a lighter version of The Road to Perdition. In any case, fans of Boardwalk Empire will most definitely enjoy this book.