The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In 1930s California, glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins in this New York Times bestseller from the author of Tightrope.

At the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel on the coast of California, rookie reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool….

The dead woman had something Irene wanted: a red-hot secret about an up-and-coming leading man—a scoop that may have gotten her killed. As Irene searches for the truth about the drowning, she’s drawn to a master of deception. Once a world-famous magician whose career was mysteriously cut short, Oliver Ward is 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.

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Irene Glasson came to California from the East Coast a number of months ago on the run from her past. Determined to start a new life for herself she had no idea her past would eventually catch up with her. Oliver Ward knows all about moving on from the past as he’s been trying to get his life back on track after a bad accident ruined his magic career and nearly his life. Can they trust each other when they both need to keep their secrets close?

I’ve been an Amanda Quick fan for many years and was a little surprised when I realised just how long it’s been that I’ve been holding off reading this new kick-off of hers – away from the Regency/Victorian Historical setting and into the American 1930s. I feel mentally Amanda Quick to me signifies one of the best authors in the historical romance genres and she’s set the bar quite high. While I adore the 1920s and am fairly flexible in my reading likes, older American settings have never really been a passion of mine so I’ve been hesitant. Therefore, this book has languished in my to read pile.

Such a long enforced-indoors stay, though, (thank you Covid-19) had me curious enough to crack this open and for the most part I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I was both thrilled and relieved that the writing has retained the high standard and easy-to-sink-into aspect that I associate with Amanda Quick (and her contemporary alter-ego Jayne Ann Krentz) and this story has reiterated for me, personally, that this author could write virtually anything and I’d find it largely readable.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much is way better than “largely readable” but I admit it wasn’t quite the gold-standard many of Quick’s earlier novels were. The characters were excellently drawn and familiar with intelligence and subtle good looks and keen to use their brains and skills rather than just coast along. I also felt the plot was very well woven and there were a few threads all linking up together really strongly and it kept the pace moving while giving the story a good sense of being rounded out. I admit the old-style Hollywood aspect to the story was interesting but never really grabbed me – though I freely admit this setting will likely appeal strongly to a large number of other readers. Quick does an excellent job of infusing the story with the sense of that golden era of Hollywood and the Art Deco/extravagance and historical setting of the 1930s and California in general. I strongly feel it was my own personal tastes that simply had me not as enraptured by this aspect to the story – Quick has done an amazing job with the writing and for readers who enjoy this style and setting should find it wonderful to sink into.

As is often the case with Quick (and Krentz) the setting and world she’s built was as addictive as the hero and heroine. There were a number of very strong secondary characters (Luther and Willie most especially) that I would have loved to see more of in subsequent books and I’m glad I’ve got the next already purchased. While there are a few intimate scenes written between Oliver and Irene I don’t feel they’re hot enough to be a turn-off for most traditional romance readers. While descriptive, they are a very small aspect to the story and I feel they are very tastefully written. The emotional relationship and romance between Oliver and Irene is a strong aspect to this story but I feel the mystery/suspense is equally strong and very prominent. I was really pleased that both sides to this story are well balanced and – to my mind – given equal weight throughout the story. This is the sort of book I wouldn’t blush to recommend to my mother or an elderly relative.

Readers who enjoy historically-set novels with both a strong romance and equally strong mystery should really enjoy these. Fans of Amanda Quick’s other novels should definitely give this a whirl as I was vastly pleased her change in time and setting has not dulled her talent one iota. A good book I will enjoy re-reading.

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