Salmon in the Soup by Meg O'Brien
published 1990 chapter 11
A couple of well-placed calls located Paulie for me… in Atlantic City where he owned a small casino… I picked up a budget rental, then headed out on the Atlantic City Expressway. The drive took another hour.
Somewhere after Pleasantville, I switched on a local radio station and rolled down the windows, letting dinner jazz fill my ears and the briny air hit my face. I could see myself dancing in the Whatever Ballroom, high atop Atlantic City’s own Tropi-cana-dero-schmero-Fountain-Bleu Hotel – swirling in a black chiffon dress and sporting a long creamy string of pearls. It was in that frame of mind that I meandered into town in my rumpled white jeans and shirt, letting the casino tour buses whiz on by.
I found Paulie’s place on the boardwalk, a good distance way from either Trump’s or Harrah’s higher-priced locations.
observations: Jess James is an investigative reporter in upstate New York, she’s a reformed alcoholic, she knows all the bad boys in her town, she’s in trouble with her boss, she’s not sure about her clothes, she is looking into a crime but gets warned off …. Feel you’ve heard it all before? She is something of a Me-Too heroine, popping up after Kinsey Milhone and V I Warshawski. This book isn’t bad, but doesn’t feel distinctive enough. If you read a lot of detective fiction, sometimes you feel that there’s a central list of attributes, events and plot devices, and that the writer has made a random selection. The title, by the way, is pretty much meaningless. When I picked up this book secondhand – published in the UK in 1993 by the very feminist Women’s Press – I thought it was unusual to find an author, series and protagonist that I had never heard of. But maybe not so surprising after all.
Links up with: George Eliot seems like a bit of a leap, but Gwendolen Harleth visits a casino in Daniel Deronda. There are plenty of black frocks and pearls all over the blog, but this bad girl in a black dress is particularly fabulous.
**For an excellent overview of 1980s mysteries in another blog, go to Margot Kinberg's Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.
Adolph de Meyer took the photo– he was Vogue’s first fashion photographer, and has featured before.