Caleb and Linda Pirtle Best Cover Design for a Historical Crime Novel: Death of a Flapper

Caleb and Linda Pirtle is pleased to announce the winners of its Best Cover Design for Mystery Novels. The awards will be announced each day, and they will be given in the genres of International Thriller, Mystery, Conspiracy Thriller, Crime, Historical Crime, Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Thriller, Detective, Spy Thriller, Crime Suspense, Hard-Boiled, Political Thriller, and Suspense. 

Winner of the Best Cover Design for a Romantic Suspense Novel will be announced tomorrow.

















The Story: The Roaring Twenties – a decade of wealth, abundance and decadence. When Lucille Prado doesn’t hear from her daughter, Alice – a NYC career girl – she enlists the help of Tin Pan Alley ace private eye, Carney Brogan. The last time Lucille has heard from Alice has been two weeks earlier.

With a dollar retainer, Carney quickly identifies Alice Prado as Arabella Germaine, the ultimate flapper girl, a beautiful platinum blond who loves a good time and ingratiate herself into all the right circles — and who has just died under mysterious circumstances.

COVERCONTEST-BESTCOVERAs Carney digs further, he finds a whole slew of suspects, including Arabella’s roommate, the actress, Sally Blair; the flapper’s mentor, Victor Cathcourt; and the wealthy Landon siblings, Robert and Regan. From the Landon’s Long Island estate to the dark streets of the Bowery to a run-in with mobsters,

Carney follows the clues until he finally solves the question of: who really wanted the gorgeous party girl dead?

Marva Dale is the pen name for author Debra McReynolds. Retired from the public relations field, Debra now spends her free time indulging in her passion for writing. “I used to fill my school notebooks with stories,” Debra relates, “and then add artwork to go along with them. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Daley, predicted that I would be a writer one day.”

Review by John Brantingham: I love detective fiction and mystery novels. Love them. Eat them up. So do a lot of people.

Here’s a secret that not a lot of people know though. As much as I like the big names of detective fiction, there is a whole other world that exists in the small presses. The mission of any large press is in least in part to make a lot of money. It has to be. Every author needs to pay out.

That isn’t necessarily true in the small presses, which means the authors there can often take more chances and play around.

Marva Dale’s Death of a Flapper from Oak Tree Press plays around a bit, and I love it.

The books that get a lot of serious readers of mystery novels started are set in the 1920s and 1930s. Ms. Dale has returned to the 1920s to capture those things we love set there.

She has the classic plot. Our hero, Carney Brogan, must find the killer of Alice Prado a beautiful young woman who has come to New York City and gotten herself mixed up with the wealth of the city in the 20s and all the corruption and goes along with it. Carney has to dig through the confusing world of people with too much money and too much influence.

If this sounds like a lot of the classic detective fiction from the 1920s, it should. Carney is the kind of physically tough, morally sound, and intelligent detective we love. Detectives of that era were 20th century knights. Carney is a part of that tradition.

However, what makes Death of a Flapper is that Ms. Dale has allowed Carney to have 21st century personal insight and self-doubt. This is not of course a hallmark of only the 21st century person. People in the early 20th century were plagued with the same personal doubts as we have. However, that never came through the detective literature.

Carney is a fantastic character because he is so real. Carney is a protagonist with an interior life that is as rich, complicated, damaged, and confusing as the rest of us. He questions himself and doubts himself and wonders if he understands what’s going on in the world. By the end of the novel, I found myself identifying with him as I had never identified with Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe, two characters I love, and I was dying to know what happened next.

In the end, Death of a Flapper was a terrific read, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Marva Dale’s Death by the Decade series.






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