"Nate stood up. He was very still, but I knew from dance how stillness could explode into movement.” That tension, between the threat of violence and the act, is at the heart of Strings Attached, the latest thriller by National Book Award winner Judy Blundell.
Kit Corrigan is a struggling chorus girl in New York City, having fled her home in Rhode Island for a shot at life onstage. It’s 1950, the Korean War is just beginning, and Kit’s ex, Billy, has enlisted in the Army. She’s surprised when Billy’s father, Nate Benedict, offers her a leg up. He provides her with an apartment, tailored clothes and connections leading to bigger and better jobs. In exchange, Kit must keep tabs on Billy and do occasional favors for his dad. Easy enough, right? But Nate Benedict is a lawyer with mob connections, and his favors have potentially fatal consequences.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s something not quite right about how close Billy was with Kit’s brother Jamie. And the family is still smarting from a falling-out that sent their aunt so far away that nobody can find her.
Strings Attached sets a murder mystery, love story and rich family history in a meaty stretch of American history. Between two wars, the anti-Communist blacklists, air-raid drills, automats and a thriving nightclub scene largely run by the Mafia, Blundell weaves a complex story. Readers will get a generous dose of history here, but it's the glamour and mystery, along with concern for Kit and her family, that will keep them hooked. Strings Attached is a winner.
Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
When gangster Nate Benedict gets underage chorus girl Kit a job and an apartment, she knows he'll want something in return. That something has to do with Nate's estranged son, now in the service but formerly Kit's sweetheart back home in Providence. Set in 1950 Manhattan with flashbacks to homefront Providence, the novel is expert pastiche with a heroine both glamorous and vulnerable. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 February #1
Caught up in dreams of dancing on Broadway, Kit Corrigan unwisely accepts an apartment and a nightclub job from mob lawyer Nate Benedict in exchange for keeping tabs on his son Billy, who's enlisted in the Army along with Kit's brother, Jamie. Kit broke off her relationship with Billy after his last jealousy-fueled outburst. Nate starts calling in favors, and Kit becomes entangled in a web of secrets and lies. Like her Aunt Delia before her, she came to New York to escape a suffocating life in Providence and what Jamie calls "the Irish form of advancement—you don't dare do better than those before you." Kit's father had scraped together a living off the novelty of his motherless triplets, the Corrigan Three, in a home with psychic and emotional "undertows, things we didn't understand, and jokes and stories passing for truth." Layers of deception are peeled away in a jumbled sequence of events that echoes Kit's confusion as she discovers the extent of her family's connection with the Benedicts and realizes that her own actions at the age of 12 set in motion a chain of events that end in murder. National Book Award–winner Blundell (What I Saw and How I Lied, 2008)ÃÂ delivers a brilliantly conceived novel set against the backdrop of the 1950 Kefauver mob hearings and the Red Scare with a story of redemption and truth at its core.ÃÂ (Historical fiction. 14 & up)
Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal BookSmack
Author of the What I Saw and How I Lied, the 2008 National Book Award winner, Blundell gifts readers with another story of a young woman forced by circumstance to grow up too soon, this one set in 1950s New York. Kit Corrigan wants to be a dancer, but the city is unkind to this teenaged runaway from Providence, RI. Enter Nate Benedict, the father of her (ex?) boyfriend, Billy. Benedict offers Kit an apartment and a job as a dancer at the swanky Lido Club, asking only that she lure his estranged son back into town. Kit knows better than to get involved with Billy's father (who is rumored to have mob connections), but the chance to repair her relationship with Billy is too much to resist. When a mobster is murdered at the club, the blowback brings to light disturbing secrets involving Kit's family, their connection to the Benedicts, and the disappearance of her Aunt Delia. Again, Blundell has crafted an utterly engrossing story, set in a city both grittier and more glamorous than our own New York. - "35 Going on 13" Booksmack! 6/16/11 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 May/June
Kit Corrigan is a feisty seventeen-year-old dancer and actress trying to make it into showbiz in this enthralling novel set in the 1950s. Kit hesitantly accepts the offer of an apartment in New York City, extended by her ex-boyfriend's father, a big-shot lawyer with mob connections. Soon he gets her a job dancing at the famous Lido Club. But Kit has to spy and report back to Nate on the famous mobsters and politicians who frequent the club. Blundell takes us back and forth in Kit's life, showing us glimpses of her impoverished Irish upbringing as one of a set of triplets whose dad got them bit parts to bring in extra money. Later we see scenes of jealous rage with her boyfriend as intrigue abounds with other family members. The characters are rich and well developed, the time period and its culture are described with great clarity, and the shocking ending makes the reader want to know more about Kit's life. Recommended. Laurie Balderson, English Teacher, Hamilton-Holmes Middle School King William, Virginia ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 January #3
The New York City mobster scene during the 1950s is vibrantly brought to life in this saga of a poor dancer who pays a high price for the breaks she gets. When the story opens, 17-year-old Kit Corrigan has left her Providence, R.I., family for the lights of Broadway and still has mixed feelings about her hotheaded ex-boyfriend, Billy, who has since joined the army. Then Kit receives an offer she can't refuse: become a snoop for Billy's gangster father in exchange for a much-needed Manhattan apartment and a nightclub gig. Kit almost immediately regrets her decision but is unable to prevent a future tainted by heartache, deception, and murder. Past tragedies suffered by Kit and her Irish-American family are artfully woven into the plot; if the book is a little slow-moving at first, National Book Award-winner Blundell (What I Saw and How I Lied) successfully constructs a complex web of intrigue that connects characters in unexpected ways. History and theater buffs will especially appreciate her attention to detail--Blundell again demonstrates she can turn out first-rate historical fiction. Ages 13-up. (Mar.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 7 Up--November 1950 in New York City: a time and place in which everything changes for Kit Corrigan. After dropping out of high school in Providence to pursue dancing and acting, a breakup with Billy Benedict, a college boy and the son of a powerful mob lawyer, propels her to the Big Apple. A fraternal triplet whose mother died in childbirth, Kit has been raised by a working-class father with the sometime help of his sister, Delia. Her brother, Jamie, and Billy have enlisted in the Korean War. In New York, Kit's talent and gorgeous red hair help land her in the chorus of a quick-to-close Broadway show. Her money is disappearing when Mr. Benedict shows up to dangle a carrot she can't ignore: a cozy apartment and an audition to be a Lido Doll. Is it so much just to tell him when she hears from Billy, help with the occasional package, and chat with certain men who frequent the Lido? Goings-on at the club get increasingly sinister, Kit's neighbors are being persecuted as Reds, and somehow Aunt Delia's disappearance is linked to the teen's current New York life. Evoking the glamour, grit, and gusto of the era, Blundell has produced a compelling narrative with well-crafted characters who bring different ambitions, fears, and memories toward tragic collisions. Circling back and forth through the years of Kit's life, readers dip into her Great Depression childhood, her family's bootlegging past, and the stark revelations of the adult world.--Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA[Page 156]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.