Death at the Tavern by Lee Strauss

death at the tavern

Title: Death at the Tavern (A Higgins and Hawke Mystery #1)

Author: Lee Strauss

Published on: 28th January 2019

Genre: Historical Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s been seven years since Dr Haley Higgins’ brother was found murdered. The Boston police have given up on finding his murderer but Haley hasn’t. She’s an assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner. Samantha Hawke is a wannabe reporter. It’s the 1930’s, the era when women weren’t encouraged to work. Sam works at a local newspaper – initially as a receptionist and now writes the women’s column. Her good-for-nothing husband left her six years ago and she’s never seen him after that. With a six-year-old daughter and a nagging mother-in-law to feed, Sam wants a raise. After persuading her boss, she gets to tag along with the office playboy – Johnny – in investigative reporting.

Higgins and Hawke meet by chance and strike a chord. Though both ladies have doubts about the other, they have one aim – to solve the murder at Tavern and bring the killer to justice.


Death at the Tavern is the first book in Higgins and Hawke mystery. Set in the 1930s, the book highlights the various problems faced by women.

As the story begins, the reader is introduced to the two main characters – Haley and Samantha. Haley is the only woman in the profession of ME. She’s worked with Dr Guthrie during her tenure in Europe and is a tad happy to see him as her new boss. But the old man cannot seem to tolerate Boston’s humid weather. After her brother’s death, Haley wanted something to take her mind off it and the opportunity as the assistant ME sounded like the right option for her.

Samantha juggles between work and home. Her good-for-nothing husband is nowhere to be found and she has two mouths to feed. Her job at the Boston Daily Record is like a payback. Her mother-in-law, Bina, has issues with her – like most of the MILs do with their DILs. 😉 Talia, Sam’s daughter is being teased at school for being a jew. At work, Johnny wants to date her and won’t take a no for an answer. The men aren’t used to seeing a lady work at what they call a “man’s job”. She faces some obstructions at work too. But Sam is strong. She doesn’t want to give up. She wants to do what she’s always wanted to – a reporter at the Daily Record.


A man is found shot dead at the Bell. It is later revealed that the man’s family are well known for their notoriety. Was his murder a result of an on-going family tiff? Soon after, a woman is found murdered at a brothel. The police do not want to spend time or money investigating her murder as she was a prostitute. But Haley and Samantha believe that the two murders are linked. So off they go to solve it on their own. They do get into trouble and their life is in danger.

I like stories that have strong characters. And I like it even more if the characters are strong women who face everything that life throws at them with their head held high. It was heart-wrenching to read that women weren’t treated as equals during those times. Especially when it comes to Sam, the poor woman was being bullied at work and at home. (As the story ends, things do get better for Sam.)

Death at the Tavern is a well-researched story – be it the alcohol ban (the prohibition), the great depression, corrupt cops or women being underestimated at work. Strauss has done an excellent job in keeping her readers hooked on to the book. This was an unputdownable story! Goodreads says the book is 240 pages long but I was surprised that I managed to read it in less than 2 hours – mostly because the story was so interesting and engrossing.

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind read then do check out this book and you will not be disappointed. I liked this book so much that I am going to start with the next in this series right away! 😀

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