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The Impersonator

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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 t 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.


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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 t 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.

30 review for The Impersonator

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a 2013 Minotaur publication. The roaring twenties, vaudeville, and a puzzling mystery – a winning combination! When, Leah, a Vaudeville performer, is approached by a gentleman, who introduces himself as her ‘Uncle Oliver’, and swears she is the spitting image of his niece, Jessie Carr, she blows him off, thinking he’s a creep. But he persists in his pursuit, finally revealing that dear Jessie disappeared when she was fourteen years old, and that if she doesn’t s The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a 2013 Minotaur publication. The roaring twenties, vaudeville, and a puzzling mystery – a winning combination! When, Leah, a Vaudeville performer, is approached by a gentleman, who introduces himself as her ‘Uncle Oliver’, and swears she is the spitting image of his niece, Jessie Carr, she blows him off, thinking he’s a creep. But he persists in his pursuit, finally revealing that dear Jessie disappeared when she was fourteen years old, and that if she doesn’t show up to claim her generous inheritance soon, it will be forfeited. Leah, as an actress, could impersonate Jessie and secure the fortune, which she and Oliver would share. Initially. Leah refuses the offer, but shortly thereafter, she finds herself down on her luck and in dire straits. Desperate, Leah contacts Oliver and agrees to play the part. However, once she arrives at Cliff House, she begins to think the real Jessie might have met with foul play. Not only that, her cousins, who stand to lose a fortune, have promised to prove she’s a fake. With the deaths of two other girls nearby, Leah begins to think the cases are connected to Jessie somehow. She must also keep her wits about her and avoid making any grave errors until the estate signs over the inheritance. Is Jessie still out there somewhere, or has something terrible happened to her? Will Leah manage to pull off the performance of a lifetime, or will she be exposed and arrested for fraud… or worse? This book has been sitting on my Kindle for at least six years!! I’ve been looking through my device recently, trying to read a few books that slid down the TBR list and off my radar over the years. This book stuck out because I’ve been dying to read more historical fiction lately, but all the new releases tend to follow a current trend and there are few choices beyond that right now. However, that unfortunate situation did force me to look through my older titles for something to satisfy my craving, and as a result, I have found some real gems- this being one of them! The 1920s is one of my favorite historical settings, and the Vaudeville theme also sounded intriguing. To put the cherry on the cake, there’s a mystery to solve- a cold case, at that! The plot is not totally original, as there have been other books, and even real -life cases in which someone claimed to be a long lost relative to gain access to a title, power or wealth. However, the author did a great job of making the story uniquely hers, especially when it came to characterizations. Leah is a great heroine, full of spunk and enthusiasm and one couldn’t help but root for her. While the culprit is rather obvious, there are several nice twists and surprises along the way, and I loved the way the story ended. As I suspected, this book was a good fit for me. Why I didn’t get around to reading it ages ago, I’m not sure. But, better late than never! But the best news is that there are at least three other books in this series! I can’t wait to see what Leah will get up to next!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lynx

    Raised in vaudeville, Leah has jumped from troop to troop, changing names and characters, travelling all over America since she was a tot. But the vaudeville scene is changing and she's not sure if theres a place for her in it. It's at this crossroads where she meets Oliver who offers her the role of a lifetime. Turns out Leah is a dead ringer for his niece Jessie who disappeared at 14 and hasn't been heard from since. The time has come for her to claim her inheritance or it's handed over to her Raised in vaudeville, Leah has jumped from troop to troop, changing names and characters, travelling all over America since she was a tot. But the vaudeville scene is changing and she's not sure if theres a place for her in it. It's at this crossroads where she meets Oliver who offers her the role of a lifetime. Turns out Leah is a dead ringer for his niece Jessie who disappeared at 14 and hasn't been heard from since. The time has come for her to claim her inheritance or it's handed over to her cousins. With the prospect of collecting enough money to set her up in a new life Leah finds this an offer she cannot refuse. Using the tricks vaudeville has given her as well as spending a few weeks of "Jessie training" with Oliver, she is ready to meet the family. What she wasn't ready for was the realization that not everyone in the family is happy to have Jessie back. As the days progress and unusual incidents begin to happen, Leah realizes she needs to stay vigilant and discover the secret behind Jessie's disappearance in order to keep her own. I enjoyed this one a lot. Miley's writing is beautiful and I could envision all the details perfectly. She has spent a lot of time researching that era and her work most definitely enriches the story. I did however find the mystery side to be quite predictable, there are not many plot twists here. It's a beautiful journey though and I'll certainly be reading the next in the series. 3.5/5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Leah/Jesse is such a fun, quirky and lovable character. First person narrations are sometimes hard to pull off but it works so well in this story. Just pure fun, a romp through the twenties and vaudeville. We even get to meet a young Jack Benny, and a few others who at the time had top acts on the circuit. Dressing rooms, theaters, the life of those in the business, and one has to admire their grit because there were so many acts it was hard to stay on top. Good story, fast moving, some wonderfu Leah/Jesse is such a fun, quirky and lovable character. First person narrations are sometimes hard to pull off but it works so well in this story. Just pure fun, a romp through the twenties and vaudeville. We even get to meet a young Jack Benny, and a few others who at the time had top acts on the circuit. Dressing rooms, theaters, the life of those in the business, and one has to admire their grit because there were so many acts it was hard to stay on top. Good story, fast moving, some wonderful characters, this one is a delight.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Oolookitty

    I don't really even know what to do with this one. Miley writes fairly well, and her vaudeville setting is fun and well-researched, but as I was reading, all I could think was BRAT FARRAR by Josephine Tey. And indeed, at the end of the book, she cites BF as an "inspiration" for this book. Inspiration? No. The plotting is pretty much lifted wholesale from that book. I knew what was going to happen every step of the way because yeah, I've read BRAT FARRAR. I guess I'm unclear on how you win awards I don't really even know what to do with this one. Miley writes fairly well, and her vaudeville setting is fun and well-researched, but as I was reading, all I could think was BRAT FARRAR by Josephine Tey. And indeed, at the end of the book, she cites BF as an "inspiration" for this book. Inspiration? No. The plotting is pretty much lifted wholesale from that book. I knew what was going to happen every step of the way because yeah, I've read BRAT FARRAR. I guess I'm unclear on how you win awards for a first novel that somebody else plotted for you... she brings it into a different setting but this is not, by any means, an original plot. And since I'm not sure that Tey is in public domain yet, I'm unclear on how this works. Despite the fact that the writing is decent, I'm only giving one star because I expect novelists to do their own plotting and come up with their own ideas.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Easy, fun mystery that's light-hearted. This is not a sit on the edge of your seat, nail biting, flipping to the end of the book mystery. An enjoyable read with a very likable protagonist. Recommend but not over the top with suspense! Easy, fun mystery that's light-hearted. This is not a sit on the edge of your seat, nail biting, flipping to the end of the book mystery. An enjoyable read with a very likable protagonist. Recommend but not over the top with suspense!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I wanted to like this book. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries but the synopsis was enthralling. After scanning the description and a few reviews I suspected that I had discovered a new favorite. Alas, it was not meant to be. (/dramatics) The writing was decent, however, I was expecting so much more. It was clear who the obvious culprit would be in the case of Jessie's disappearance, so I was confident that there was a twist coming which had my mind racing, suspecting every character. (I mean, a I wanted to like this book. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries but the synopsis was enthralling. After scanning the description and a few reviews I suspected that I had discovered a new favorite. Alas, it was not meant to be. (/dramatics) The writing was decent, however, I was expecting so much more. It was clear who the obvious culprit would be in the case of Jessie's disappearance, so I was confident that there was a twist coming which had my mind racing, suspecting every character. (I mean, at one point I was absolutely convinced that the culprit was Grandmother.) When it turned out to be the person that the book pointed to all along I felt completely let down. The scenarios I came up with in my head were much more entertaining. Where was the mystery? Also, the ending was too convenient and cleaned up. I felt that the interactions between characters were often clumsy and not how human beings would act or speak to each other. I nearly laughed out loud when David kissed Leah after pulling her out of the cave. "I knew I couldn't feel this way about my sister" (not verbatim). The timing was awkward and, well it was all awkward. ("I've been secretly harboring feelings for the person I thought was my sister". Oh, okay. :Swoon: ?). Another time when the twins and Leah were going to play tennis she tells them "You'll have to teach me, remember the tennis court wasn't built when I was still here" (not verbatim). No one talks like that, it would be entirely too obvious that she was a fraud and trying to convince them otherwise. They were all there before Jessie disappeared, if she had said "You'll have to teach me", there would have been no explanation necessary. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had it not been labeled a "mystery", but because it was I found it to be mostly just anti-climactic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    THE IMPERSONATOR was an excellent historical mystery filled with details about Vaudeville, bootlegging, and life in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s. Leah has been in Vaudeville since she was an infant and has survived alone since her mother's death when Leah was twelve. She has gone from act to act and changed her name to fit ever since. But one night, Oliver Beckett comes to her with a proposition that will change her life. She is a dead ringer for his niece Jessie who disappeared at age fou THE IMPERSONATOR was an excellent historical mystery filled with details about Vaudeville, bootlegging, and life in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s. Leah has been in Vaudeville since she was an infant and has survived alone since her mother's death when Leah was twelve. She has gone from act to act and changed her name to fit ever since. But one night, Oliver Beckett comes to her with a proposition that will change her life. She is a dead ringer for his niece Jessie who disappeared at age fourteen. Jessie was the sole heir to the Carr fortune. Now the time of her twenty-first birthday and the seventh anniversary of her disappearance are approaching. Oliver wants Leah to impersonate Jessie, inherit the money, and share it with him. Leah turns him down at first but when she loses her job with her current act and can't find another, desperation forces her to take Oliver's offer. She is in training to become Jessamyn Beckett Carr. After some quick tutoring, Leah first tries out her act on Oliver's mother who was Jessie's grandmother. Acceptance by her Grandmother and her Uncle Oliver and a story that will be hard for the trustees of "Jessie's" estate to disprove helps pave the way to meeting her aunt and cousins at Cliff House in Oregon. Jessie disappeared while in the care of this family. Her Aunt Veronica was consumed by her husband's last illness and Jessie was left at the mercy of her older cousins Henry and Ross and the teasing of her younger twin cousins Valerie and Caroline. While learning about Jessie, Leah becomes determined to find out what happened to her. She quickly learns that other young women from the area had been murdered. Because they were poor and Chinese or Native their deaths weren't being investigated very thoroughly. Leah quickly begins to suspect that one of her cousins - either Henry or Ross - was involved. Leah also has to deal with a number of attempts on her life when she assumes the role of Jessie. This was an excellent mystery. I enjoyed getting to know Leah and could easily empathize with her decision to try for a better life. I liked the period details and the mentions of Vaudeville stars that had later careers in radio and television. Jack Benny plays a key role as Leah's friend. I highly recommend this engaging and well-written novel.

  8. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    First Sentence: I felt his eyes before I saw his face. Orphaned Leah Randall has been doing vaudeville since she was a toddler. However, her career is on the wane and she’s not certain where her next job may be, until she’s approached by a stranger. Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found his niece who disappeared when she was only 14. Jessie Carr was the sole heiress to her family’s fortune. Now Oliver thinks he’s found a way for “Jessie” to return home, inherit and provide him with a life of comfort. First Sentence: I felt his eyes before I saw his face. Orphaned Leah Randall has been doing vaudeville since she was a toddler. However, her career is on the wane and she’s not certain where her next job may be, until she’s approached by a stranger. Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found his niece who disappeared when she was only 14. Jessie Carr was the sole heiress to her family’s fortune. Now Oliver thinks he’s found a way for “Jessie” to return home, inherit and provide him with a life of comfort. Can Leah/Jessie pull it off amid the suspicion of the family, especially her two male cousins? From the beginning, some with recognize the theme and predecessors to this book and, possibly, be a bit hesitant. Fear not; read on. Set in 1979 and in the United States allows for fascinating new elements to the plot. The details of a life in vaudeville, and the addition of famous people who began their careers there, truly brings the story to life. Yet, as with the period, Miley correctly uses the labels for different ethnic groups which are unacceptable today. Doesn’t one always love a good plot twist, and the introduction of a threat? Even the reader is momentarily left wondering what is true, and what is not. A secondary plot adds another dimension to the story, and the opportunity to learn interesting information on the history of Oregon and its native Indian tribes. We are also given an interesting prospective in a period when the Democratic Party was the pro-segregation and anti-immigration party of conservatives. “The Impersonator” has a very effective plot, with excellent tension and suspense, including a highly effective twist at the end. This is a wonderfully executed story. THE IMPERSONATOR (Hist Mys–Leah Randall/Jessie Carr–U.S.–1917) – VG+ Miley, Mary – 1st book Minotaur Books – 2013

  9. 5 out of 5

    amanda

    this is great. murder, mystery, VAUDEVILLE?? what’s not to love *sobs happily* jessie is an amazing character and I love how she doesn’t take shit. the mystery was easy enough to solve but I was still blown away by the end. I highly recommend reading this if you’re a lover of historical mystery.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Oh my, is there anything the MC cannot do? It makes perfect sense that her memory is great (she's spent her whole life with various theatres after all) or that she's good at reading people (having to survive in various environments can teach you that) but considering how fast she masters every new thing she has to learn makes me wonder if she's a super human or a robot in disguise. Not to mention she's go a sixth sense that saves her whenever she's in trouble. It's not even annoying - just plain Oh my, is there anything the MC cannot do? It makes perfect sense that her memory is great (she's spent her whole life with various theatres after all) or that she's good at reading people (having to survive in various environments can teach you that) but considering how fast she masters every new thing she has to learn makes me wonder if she's a super human or a robot in disguise. Not to mention she's go a sixth sense that saves her whenever she's in trouble. It's not even annoying - just plain unbelievable. What does annoy me for real is that the treatment of Native Americans by white people (both in the past and in the 20s when the story takes place) is literally summed up with "oh no, these poor Indians! [heroine sheds a tear]". Ummm, really? The murders of young women of colour are supposed to play a rather big part in the mystery but it doesn't feel like any of the POCs are anything more than plot devices. Or stage props that are only there to make our MC look sensitive and caring. Aaaaaand, of course, the only queer characters is a bad guy. How original! As for the mystery - it was interesting at first but the culprit was revealed quite fast and I honestly don't know what the rest of the book was for. The MC showing off, probably.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katharine Ott

    "The Impersonator" - written by Mary Miley and published in 2013 by St Martin's Press. It's 1917 and a young lady has established herself in the vaudeville world as her mother had before she died. She is approached by a gentleman who professes to know her by another name, Jessie Carr, as his long-lost niece. Although she insists he is mistaken, they embark on a scheme to pull the wool over the eyes of Jessie's family and the lawyers who are handling the substantial inheritance she will receive o "The Impersonator" - written by Mary Miley and published in 2013 by St Martin's Press. It's 1917 and a young lady has established herself in the vaudeville world as her mother had before she died. She is approached by a gentleman who professes to know her by another name, Jessie Carr, as his long-lost niece. Although she insists he is mistaken, they embark on a scheme to pull the wool over the eyes of Jessie's family and the lawyers who are handling the substantial inheritance she will receive once she turns 21. Of course this pathway is fraught with peril. "This heiress gig was nice work. Unless it got you killed." If you are willing suspend belief regarding some aspects of the con, this becomes a fun, nicely-paced caper with nothing settled until the last minute.

  12. 4 out of 5

    JaNel

    “He could look down on them because his grandfather had come over in an earlier boat..”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Ode de joy! The Impersonator by Mary Miley is such a fun book. Excitement, trickery, sizzling close calls, unpleasant yet intriguing truths and danger fill its pages. The most fascinating storyline for me is when a character has to expertly pretend to be another person. The Impersonator has a vaudeville actress named Leah faced with the performance of long-missing heiress Jessie. I found the reason that Leah appearance was similar to Jessie’s completely surprising. So often, every other characte Ode de joy! The Impersonator by Mary Miley is such a fun book. Excitement, trickery, sizzling close calls, unpleasant yet intriguing truths and danger fill its pages. The most fascinating storyline for me is when a character has to expertly pretend to be another person. The Impersonator has a vaudeville actress named Leah faced with the performance of long-missing heiress Jessie. I found the reason that Leah appearance was similar to Jessie’s completely surprising. So often, every other character absent of the direct knowing party, in this storyline, misses noting the inconsistencies of the fraud or mentions discrepancies without looking deeper. In this story, not all, but many realize the truth. This attribute shares that the author understand how unrealistic that even an actress can fool everyone. All the characters brought something new to the story. I love how Jessie’s cousin Ross may have been unlikeable to Jessie, but was more than arrogant. Ross is a very sincere and intelligent fellow, along with being scary. Henry, Jessie’s other male cousin, is frightening and gave this story so many exciting moments. His selfishness may have been unlikeable but is relatable. Though he wanders too far in his race to fill his desires. Jessie’s naive female cousins were cute and humorous. Ah, I love every moment with them watching Leah involve them in her acting culture. Leah was the best, sincere, hopeful, independent and snarky. She valiantly jumped into torchy territory. Even when she was scared, Leah still believed in her capability to withstand the danger on her search for Jessie’s story. I love the authentic outlook of the 1920s. I never knew that liquor was poured into teacups. One of my few negative feelings for the book was the beginning. I wish I could have felt Leah’s pain while she lost her job and her search for a new legit one. The deep connection on that section was bypassed mostly because I felt it was a list of loss jobs without me feeling Leah’s profound angst that I know she felt. Thankfully, I was able to relate to Leah and her story the rest of the story. I may have figured out the culprit and Jessie’s state of life, but I had a delightful time exploring with Leah how it happened and why. The way Miley portrayed the whereabouts of Jessie’s state was amazing. Anyone looking for a fun book that you will want to finish and a valiant protagonist should explore The Impersonator. Originally Published at Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book was alike to the story of Anastasia. I don't really know that REAL story, but I know the Disney version. Princess missing, and then people trying to get an award or something for returning her to her family. Yeah, this story was quite close to that one. Except a slight bit more chilling (thank you mystery-thriller authors, you make my life). Leah (who's name I honestly forgot about since she's called Jessie through 90% of the novel), is a vaudeville actress/singer who is approached one This book was alike to the story of Anastasia. I don't really know that REAL story, but I know the Disney version. Princess missing, and then people trying to get an award or something for returning her to her family. Yeah, this story was quite close to that one. Except a slight bit more chilling (thank you mystery-thriller authors, you make my life). Leah (who's name I honestly forgot about since she's called Jessie through 90% of the novel), is a vaudeville actress/singer who is approached one night after a performance by "dear Uncle Oliver". She's offered the role of the lifetime: impersonate the long lost Carr heiress and split the inheritance with him. However, as their ploy unfolds, Leah begins to dig into the past in hopes of figuring out what happened to the real Jessie Carr. This book really surprised me. I was definitely not expecting what I got, and I'm so happy that I was wrong. Leah is a likable character from the start. She's an orphan who's determined to make her way through the world on her own. She's very independent and charitable towards her fellow performers, as they don't get paid much, unfortunately. She knows how to steal and find food if the need presents itself and she knows how to survive on her own. However, when she loses her job, she takes on the role of Jessie Carr. As time goes on, she becomes close with her false family and begins to feel guilty for her crime. Leah's character is absolutely believable and her acting impeccable. I love the way the mystery was weaved into the story. Through small things here and there, the story allowed both the readers and the characters to piece together the clues and figure out who done it. It was amazingly constructed and I really enjoyed how put together and easy flowing the story was, especially since Jessie Leah had to uncover a lot. It never, however, got boring, and the end was insane, heart-shattering, and PER-FECT. The Impersonator was a thrilling mystery that brought you back in time. Vivid descriptions, realistic characters, and a mystery too good to pass up, The Impersonator will have you hooked 'til the end! Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 World Building: 4.5/5 Writing: 4.5/5 Cover: 4/5 Overall: 4.5/5 GoodReads Rating: 4.33/5 A copy of this book was provided by St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. -review by Between Printed Pages

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan (The Book Babe)

    Other reviews at The Book Babe's Reads.   Off stage, we are not respectable, like gypsies or immigrants.   I requested The Impersonator on a whim, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was an enjoyable read. I don't usually read adult books, so it was a (sort of) new experience. Right off, I'll tell you that I liked Leah's maturity, because it's something that we just don't often see in YA literature.   Leah was a good character for me. She was spunky and smart - her sleuthing was amazing. Every idea Other reviews at The Book Babe's Reads.   Off stage, we are not respectable, like gypsies or immigrants.   I requested The Impersonator on a whim, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was an enjoyable read. I don't usually read adult books, so it was a (sort of) new experience. Right off, I'll tell you that I liked Leah's maturity, because it's something that we just don't often see in YA literature.   Leah was a good character for me. She was spunky and smart - her sleuthing was amazing. Every idea that she came up with about "Jessie" was spot on. I could imagine every one of those scenarios happening, and that made me like her more. She had common sense! I can say, however, that I felt kind of bad for her. I got past it, but... her struggles in "vaudeville" were so honestly and openly portrayed. It wasn't all fun and games, though, and I liked that. She was very brave.   It really surprised me when she took the job, though. Henry was so creepy when he talked to her, and she seemed so determined to stay out of it. But I was glad that she took it, in the end. It made for a good story, and she was good for it.   I enjoyed the crime level - the suspense was balanced out perfectly with the normal, every day moments. I was never bored, neither was I bowled over by action. Like I said, perfect blend! I was constantly trying to figure out the who-done-it part of the mystery; and there were several times where I questioned myself about Jessie. Did I truly think she was dead? I had to hold out for the ending to see, and sometimes it was downright hard. But in the end, I was happy with it. Every little plot point added up. (Psst... what a surprise ending, though! Never saw it coming.)   The atmosphere was what really took the cake, though! I love the little glimpses into 1920's society, and I loved that everything was just so... true sounding. I just couldn't get enough of it. All in all, I would definitely recommend The Impostor to you guys. It was a nice change from the norm, and I really enjoyed it!  

  16. 5 out of 5

    ✨Susan✨

    Author Mary Miley, won the 2012 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Novel Competition for, "The Impersonator", and I can see why. A fantastic, fast moving story with plenty of adventure and mystery, all based around the wonderful, roaring 20's. The strong, female lead character is such a hoot and quite scandalous for that day and age. This is an engaging story about a young Vaudevillian actress that is lead into a villainous plan of deception and impersonation in order to inherit a fo Author Mary Miley, won the 2012 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Novel Competition for, "The Impersonator", and I can see why. A fantastic, fast moving story with plenty of adventure and mystery, all based around the wonderful, roaring 20's. The strong, female lead character is such a hoot and quite scandalous for that day and age. This is an engaging story about a young Vaudevillian actress that is lead into a villainous plan of deception and impersonation in order to inherit a fortune. Along the way she is met by her own conscience while her feelings and concerns grow for the family that she never had, and is now trying to swindle. During her deception she is faced with continuous threats on her life, bootlegging, murder and a possible love interest. As she delves deeper into the family history, she learns of deception even deeper than her own, and dreams of an entity that just may be closer than she thinks. Confusion surrounds our main character as she goes through a very dangerous period of self discovery. Full and wonderful supporting characters that are all so original and become even more prevalent as the conspiracy unfolds. Tavia Gilbert did a fantastic job narrating! She absolutely was the perfect voice for our heroine and all of the other characters were distinguishable, even her male voices were genuine and recognizable. I thoroughly enjoyed this listen and would recommend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    Read my full review: http://bit.ly/1b3hbDU My opinion: Ms. Miley offers a stunning example of why I love the freshness of debut authors so much. The storyline in this book was so unique, well developed and intriguing. Given the time period that the book is set in, one can actually see this occurring and have been offered times in history when it has occurred. Ms. Miley includes the famous weaved into her storyline which was thrilling. It was just a fun, fun read! Gotta admit that the ending left m Read my full review: http://bit.ly/1b3hbDU My opinion: Ms. Miley offers a stunning example of why I love the freshness of debut authors so much. The storyline in this book was so unique, well developed and intriguing. Given the time period that the book is set in, one can actually see this occurring and have been offered times in history when it has occurred. Ms. Miley includes the famous weaved into her storyline which was thrilling. It was just a fun, fun read! Gotta admit that the ending left me in surprise, which is always a nice thing for me. Not necessarily a book with a lot of twists, per se, but a well developed plot that didn't release too much too soon.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This was a fun read. I loved the historical fiction in this. The vaudeville research was an interesting twist. And I love the bootlegger stories. I also enjoyed the mystery part of this. Even at the end there were a couple of extra twists that felt clever. I liked the MC, Leah/Jesse. She had a good heart even though she was doing something very wrong. The characters were stereotyped, but the relationships still felt well crafted. I enjoyed this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Duggan

    I rarely rate books a 1 but I couldn't justify giving this book anything higher. This book was silly in a bad way, meaningless, got more and more unbelievable as the story continued, and seemed to be written for a low reading level. I might have enjoyed this books slightly more as a young teen. I tend to steer clear of mysteries so I am definitely not the target audience. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. I rarely rate books a 1 but I couldn't justify giving this book anything higher. This book was silly in a bad way, meaningless, got more and more unbelievable as the story continued, and seemed to be written for a low reading level. I might have enjoyed this books slightly more as a young teen. I tend to steer clear of mysteries so I am definitely not the target audience. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emoore

    It was an easy read. Interesting plot and was a bonus being set in Oregon. However, as an Oregonian, the geography really threw me off. Dexter is no where near the coast, Portland or Salem. It’s a minimum 70+ miles east of the coast, over 120 southeast of Portland and a is a tiny little town to boot!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Angel

    I can't really say anything w/o a spoiler, but, to paraphrase another reviewer, I'm not sure how you win awards for a first novel that somebody else plotted for you. I can't really say anything w/o a spoiler, but, to paraphrase another reviewer, I'm not sure how you win awards for a first novel that somebody else plotted for you.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fuzzy Cow

    Leah Randall is a bit of a doll. She's a vaudeville actress living her life day to day on the stages of Prohibition Era America. She is startled one day, where a man asks her to dinner, and asks her to play the role of a lifetime: that of his dead niece, who is to inherit 10 million dollars in four months. When all other options turn South Leah picks up the role of Jessie Carr, a willful but mostly forgotten heiress who mysteriously disappeared 6 years ago. As soon as Leah makes her appearances Leah Randall is a bit of a doll. She's a vaudeville actress living her life day to day on the stages of Prohibition Era America. She is startled one day, where a man asks her to dinner, and asks her to play the role of a lifetime: that of his dead niece, who is to inherit 10 million dollars in four months. When all other options turn South Leah picks up the role of Jessie Carr, a willful but mostly forgotten heiress who mysteriously disappeared 6 years ago. As soon as Leah makes her appearances as Jessie, as role she finds she was almost born to play, attempts on her life are made, implying that maybe Jessis's disappearance was a little more sinister than anyone can prove. I loved the framework of this story. The good hearted actress, acting as detective for the victim she is portraying is really effective. When you line that up with the fairly unique setting, 1930's America (specifically Pacific Northwest), incredible pacing and Mary Miley's stellar writing, this was lining up to be a really interesting book. I loved the characterizations of many of the players, specifically Uncle Oliver. Leah/Jessie was well thought-out and there were a few parts where her personality shone. Not everyone is as well thought out though. The biggest issue I had with this book is "convenience." I'm not saying that Mary Miley didn't have a plot that stood up to the test. I think her plot was really solid. But all those odd questions that surround the plot, yeah those were coinvent. Are you ever curious how you're supposed to feel about a new character? Have a little faith. How do we tell the two brothers apart? Oh, we have the racist brother and woke brother. How do we tell the two sisters apart? Oh, we don't need to. If you're ever wondering in the book how Leah can pull off her act, have no fear. Are you worried that someone won't have a just ending? Never fear, their endings is resolved with absolutely zero doubt in the last few pages. I feel like the book looses the point, right at the end. Sure, the author cheated a few times in the middle, and occasionally slips an unnecessary in joke but the book is really solid. It even makes simplifications to provoke the period piece drama, without making the book unintelligible to a modern audience. Clearly this book had a lot of thought involved. But after the mystery was solved, Mary Miley made sure that there were absolutely no mysteries left in her world, and the book is all the worse for it. This is a great summer read. It's a decent mystery, fun period piece (though there is a lot of booze available in the Prohibition), and really interesting drama. This book gets 80% of the way to being great, and then demands to be called good. I know you'll enjoy it, and then probably have some fun ranting about it at the end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    drowningmermaid

    Surprisingly good. Not quite what I was looking for, which was 1920s fashion/lifestyle porn, but a very good thriller / mystery that I read in a day and a half. I didn't expect to like this character, but I did. If you're fond of mysteries, there's plenty to like here. Surprisingly good. Not quite what I was looking for, which was 1920s fashion/lifestyle porn, but a very good thriller / mystery that I read in a day and a half. I didn't expect to like this character, but I did. If you're fond of mysteries, there's plenty to like here.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    About 3.5 stars. A lot to like about this mystery—it's well-written, with interesting and lifelike characters, and the historical setting feels authentic and nicely evoked. I also have to give the author credit for being able to put a fresh twist on the impersonation plot that's already been done and done so well several times before. It was mostly a clean read, until suddenly throwing in a bunch of swearing in the last couple chapters that we'd got along fine without up till then. And while the About 3.5 stars. A lot to like about this mystery—it's well-written, with interesting and lifelike characters, and the historical setting feels authentic and nicely evoked. I also have to give the author credit for being able to put a fresh twist on the impersonation plot that's already been done and done so well several times before. It was mostly a clean read, until suddenly throwing in a bunch of swearing in the last couple chapters that we'd got along fine without up till then. And while there weren't any really jarring historical inaccuracies, a tinge of more modern attitudes surface here and there—(view spoiler)[e.g. very casual reactions to homosexuality (a couple of sentences thrown in that have absolutely no bearing on the plot) and illegitimacy (it might be one thing to accept and form a relationship with an illegitimate relative, but would you go around breezily introducing them as such to friends and neighbors?). (hide spoiler)] Still, a far better and more enjoyable read than a lot of recent books I've tried.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Can a life of playing different characters on the Vaudeville stage help a young woman pull off the greatest performance of her life? The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a look back into life in the early twentieth century and the differences between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Leah, orphaned young has grown up on the Vaudeville stage, so when she is approached to act the part of a long-missing heiress, to secure a huge inheritance, she only takes the job because Vaudeville has turned its back Can a life of playing different characters on the Vaudeville stage help a young woman pull off the greatest performance of her life? The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a look back into life in the early twentieth century and the differences between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Leah, orphaned young has grown up on the Vaudeville stage, so when she is approached to act the part of a long-missing heiress, to secure a huge inheritance, she only takes the job because Vaudeville has turned its back on her and she has no idea where her next meal will come from. Can she “become” Jessie and fool those who once knew a younger Jessie and are next in line for the money? Does anyone know what happened to the real Jessie? Could that knowledge make Leah’s Oscar-winning performance all for naught? Could it cost her her life? Does anyone REALLY deserve this windfall? Who can be trusted when money is involved, after all, everyone has their own agenda, right? Mary Miley writes in a smooth and intriguing style, easily drawing me into days gone by. She has created a mystery that begs to be solved with a plot filled with detail! I even rooted for the most likable Leah, not a true heroine, but not a villain, either with her chameleon-like abilities, intelligence and inner strength and self-confidence. Filled with both charming and devious supporting characters, the mix is a wonderful concoction! An ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Minotaur Books in exchange for my honest review. Publication Date: September 17, 2013 Publisher: Minotaur Books ISBN: 978-1250028167 Number of Pages: 368 Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime Fiction/Adults My Rating: 4 Stars Available from: Amazon / Barnes & Noble About the author: MARY MILEY is the winner of the 2012 Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. She worked at Colonial Williamsburg, taught American history at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirteen years, and has published extensively in history and travel. The Impersonator is her first novel. Miley lives in Richmond, Virginia. For more reviews check out Tome Tender's Book Blog or find us on Facebook.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elspeth G. Perkin

    From the opening page to the final chapter, The Impersonator embodies the essence of one of the novel's central themes-Vaudeville. The audience will be entertained with a family oriented story that lacks cheap thrills and shock value and delivers pure talent and delight. The eager reader will discover a cast of characters that are fully formed and portray the year of 1924 (the young are plucky and determined to enjoy life to the fullest while the older are more reserved, provide the needed voice From the opening page to the final chapter, The Impersonator embodies the essence of one of the novel's central themes-Vaudeville. The audience will be entertained with a family oriented story that lacks cheap thrills and shock value and delivers pure talent and delight. The eager reader will discover a cast of characters that are fully formed and portray the year of 1924 (the young are plucky and determined to enjoy life to the fullest while the older are more reserved, provide the needed voices of reason and are reminders of a forgotten era that was governed by restrictions and traditions). From the opening pages of The Impersonator, we follow the narration of a never say die anti-heroine who has as many secrets and mysteries in her past as the ones that dog her journey and keep returning like a bad penny. In the heart of this novel is the question: what ever happened to Jessamyn Beckett Carr? A classic fictional mystery worthy of the show the reader may have a hard time looking away from that is Mary Miley's The Impersonator. So ladies feel free to bob your hair and grab your cloche hats and fellas grab your dollface and fire up the flivver because Ms. Miley is sending us back to the 1920's. In the end, this was a fresh novel that takes a different approach with the reader. Although mysteries and crimes are spread throughout this fast-paced novel, the narration focuses more on the importance of collecting vital clues and balances discovery with elements of mystery and the "unknown" versus the gruesome and shocking. Fascinating historical details are shared with the reader that kept this reviewer centered to the era and sneaking away from life to join the adventure that waited on her Kindle. So why only 4 stars? Although a fun, absorbing read The Impersonator provided more themed and historical entertainment than a total unpredictable read but still ends as an overall enchanting debut novel that many historical mystery admirers will enjoy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marty

    Warning: Spoilers When I started this book, I was afraid I already knew what the ending would be - that Leah Russell would turn out to be Jessie Carr with amnesia. Thankfully Miley resisted that temptation and created a much more interesting and complicated ending. She threw in enough red herrings to confuse the reader, even though I pretty much figured out who-dun-it toward the end. Leah is a fun character - a former vaudeville actress and singer down on her luck who is tempted into a money maki Warning: Spoilers When I started this book, I was afraid I already knew what the ending would be - that Leah Russell would turn out to be Jessie Carr with amnesia. Thankfully Miley resisted that temptation and created a much more interesting and complicated ending. She threw in enough red herrings to confuse the reader, even though I pretty much figured out who-dun-it toward the end. Leah is a fun character - a former vaudeville actress and singer down on her luck who is tempted into a money making scheme by the missing Jessie's avaricious Uncle Oliver. She already looks like Jessie, so all she has to do is study up on Jessie's life, invent a plausible story as to why she's come back and she and Oliver will both profit. She passes the first few tests with fly colors, fooling the trustees of Jessie's estate. Unfortunately, someone appears to have taken a contract out on her life. She's nearly run over, then followed to her hotel. After she quietly sneaks out the back door, the place burns down. Then there are the disturbingly similar murders of young women in the area, all brutally murdered and with a section of hair cut off. More attempts are made to remove Leah/Jessie from the picture, until she doesn't know who to trust. And there's still the problem of what really happened to Jessie Carr. Did cousin Henry or cousin Ross kill her in the caves near the beach? How about Aunt Veronica whose sons stand to lose a fortune? Fortunately, Leah has one ally in the house, Grandmother Beckett, Jessie's mother's mother, who is determined to keep her safe. We also meet some of Leah's more famous friends, including a very young Jack Benny who is just a few years away from breaking out of vaudeville to become a more successful radio star. Many of the group acts were real people as well. I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was a quick read and it was set in one of my favorite periods, the roaring 20's.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

    Imagine being an actress hired to impersonate a missing/possibly dead heiress, while at the same time--as you pretend to be this woman, beguile and fool all her relatives, wear her clothes and jewelry--you try discreetly to get to the bottom of the big question: who killed the woman? 'Cause surely, she must be dead. After all, who doesn't claim a massive inheritance? What a line to toe! And that's just one of the many complications this heroine faces as she impersonates the missing heiress. She fe Imagine being an actress hired to impersonate a missing/possibly dead heiress, while at the same time--as you pretend to be this woman, beguile and fool all her relatives, wear her clothes and jewelry--you try discreetly to get to the bottom of the big question: who killed the woman? 'Cause surely, she must be dead. After all, who doesn't claim a massive inheritance? What a line to toe! And that's just one of the many complications this heroine faces as she impersonates the missing heiress. She feels some strange connection to the missing girl, and perhaps wishes to atone for her great "sin" of impersonating her by finding out what really happened, but one can't go around asking, "So, did you kill me seven years ago?" The setting is the twenties and goes back and forth between a fancy house on the cliffs with servants and a two-faced family (hey, not everyone is happy the heiress is back) and the city and vaudeville stage where the heroine goes to seek some assistance or ask questions. There's a few dead bodies, a greedy uncle, some rather threatening cousins, poisoning, and mysterious caves. But what really made this story fun for me was how the heroine is constantly having to watch what she says. She's supposed to be a great equestrian, has to pretend to know this or that person and all their history...and at times I would grow tense with suspense. "How's she going to get out of this one?" And the heroine would "knock me dead" every time by "ad-libbing" her way out of a mess. Full review: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2014/...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    A Huge Fortune, A False Claimant, and Murder Vaudeville is the only life Leah has known. She's played many roles and been part of many acting families since her mother died. Sometimes she's not even sure of her own name. When Oliver Beckett offers her the role of the lost heiress to an immense fortune, she turns him down. She's doing well as part of the Darling Family and doesn't want to get involved in something illegal. Then the Darlings decide to drop the members of their act that are not part A Huge Fortune, A False Claimant, and Murder Vaudeville is the only life Leah has known. She's played many roles and been part of many acting families since her mother died. Sometimes she's not even sure of her own name. When Oliver Beckett offers her the role of the lost heiress to an immense fortune, she turns him down. She's doing well as part of the Darling Family and doesn't want to get involved in something illegal. Then the Darlings decide to drop the members of their act that are not part of their immediate family. Leah is on her own. She tries to find work, but she's getting too old for the child parts she's always played. When Oliver reappears in her life, she is ill and at the end of her rope, so she agrees to help him. This is the beginning of Leah's transformation into Jessie Carr. The Carr family solicitors investigate her. The family is wary, but she's so like Jessie everyone is taken in. Everyone that is but the person who knows what happened to the real Jessie. I loved this book. Leah/Jess is a wonderful character. She's tough and smart. You can't help rooting for her. The mystery is intriguing. What did happen to the real Jessie? Leah becomes convinced she's no longer alive, but she has to prove it. The setting at the Carr mansion near Dexter in Oregon is alluring. If you enjoy a good mystery, with a likeable heroine, and an intriguing setting, you'll enjoy this book. I did. I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    The main character of the story, Leah, likes to say she's been in vaudeville since before she was born, since her mother was singing and dancing on stage carrying her in the womb. She has also had so many jobs and names, she's not really sure of her real name any more. Her mother died when she was twelve and she never knew how her father was. Her ability to portray young girls even though she is twenty-five makes her in demand. After a performance, a rich man approaches her with a proposition. N The main character of the story, Leah, likes to say she's been in vaudeville since before she was born, since her mother was singing and dancing on stage carrying her in the womb. She has also had so many jobs and names, she's not really sure of her real name any more. Her mother died when she was twelve and she never knew how her father was. Her ability to portray young girls even though she is twenty-five makes her in demand. After a performance, a rich man approaches her with a proposition. Not the usual one but that she impersonate Jessie Carr, an heiress who ran away seven years ago. And they would split the money 50/50. She turns him down, seeing nothing but a trip to prison for her. She looses her job and can't find another so she approaches the man again, who tutors her in the life of Jessie Carr. Always a quick study and a good ad-libber, she slips into the job. Then she meets the family and it's clear that the real Jessie's disappearance was not a runaway or accident. This is a great, fun mystery. The life of Vaudeville with the characters from real life, the fading vestiges of Edwardian manners and the advent of the Roaring Twenties provides a delicious backdrop to this story. I enjoyed it immensely.

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