Monday, July 21, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns by Ellen Mansoor Collier


During Prohibition, Galveston Island was called the “Free State of Galveston” due to its lax laws and laissez-faire attitude toward gambling, gals and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (Jazz) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she’s stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.

After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment.

When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against each other, as well as a common enemy. A soft-boiled mystery inspired by actual events.



You just know it's about to hit the fan when the city's sole Prohibition agent is out on the town with a society reporter at one of the better speakeasies.  Sure enough, they step outside and someone tries to gun down the agent.  Maybe the language and the dress has changed since nearly 100 years ago, but the gangs and the drive-by shootings haven't.

"Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns" reminded me of the movie "The Sting" in time period.  I guess that would make Jazz and James (Agent Burton) the Newman and Redford characters.  There were a ton of double-crosses to keep everybody guessing and to ensure that the path of true love would not run smooth.  And you know that will continue because Jazz is not a shrinking violet kind of a doll.

The book also reminded me of "Guys and Dolls" without the singing and big dance numbers.

"Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns" is, in itself, a wonderful romp through another time and another place that you can take right from the comfort of your own home.  It is also the third in Ms. Collier's "Jazz Age" series of mysteries, which means I'm going to have to go back and catch up on #'s 1 and 2, because I really like the character of Jazz.  She is like the little sister I never had.



Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).

FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”


(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.)


Sharing with my friends at:


  1. Thanks for the great review! I think you'll like and understand the characters more after you read the whole trilogy. Your readers may want to enter the giveaway for an e-copy (three winners of one book). Enjoy! E

    1. You're more than welcome, Ellen! I can't wait to read the first two books in the series! :O)

  2. Great! PLMK if/when you do and post a review...then you'll know why Burton is so determined to do his job. Thanks for the 56 Friday post, too--enjoy! Ellen

  3. I liked Ellen's choice of titles for her 3 books in the trilogy! Interesting! Hope you enjoy reading her first 2 books too, LuAnn :)

  4. Great--look forward to your reaction and reviews!
    Thanks--it's been swell! E