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 years old. 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. I'll admit that, as a fan of Josephine Tey and Mary Stewart, I started this book as a bit of a skeptic. Instead, what I found was a wonderfully executed story.
THE IMPERSONATOR (Hist Mys–Leah Randall/Jessie Carr–U.S.–1917) – VG+
Miley, Mary – 1st book
Minotaur Books – 2013