The Roaring ‘20s by Matt Cost

The Roaring ‘20s was quite arguably the most exciting time in the history of the US. It was a time just after the Great War, women recently having got the right to vote, Prohibition, speakeasies, rum runners, gangsters, baseball, jazz, moving pictures, and a period of fantastic writers producing books.

Paris has always been spoken of as a hot spot in this time period for all of this, but New York City was filled with legendary figures and events like no other place and time in the entire world. Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and the start of The Great Gatsby, Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees VS the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, Coleman Hawkins, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong and so many other monumental jazz musicians; these are just the tip of the iceberg that was New York City in the 1920’s.

When I decided to combine my love of history with my passion for mystery, thus, I needed to look no further than a setting of Brooklyn in the ‘20s. It didn’t hurt that I have a daughter living in Bed-Stuy there in the city, giving me the opportunity to research as well as visit. I decided to base my PI, 8 Ballo, in the next neighborhood over in Bushwick, based off a graffiti tour I participated in, and Velma Gone Awry; a Brooklyn 8 Ballo Mystery, set in 1923, was born.

The starting point is a German businessman coming into the dingy PI office of 8 Ballo and hiring him to find his missing flapper daughter. 8 will learn through the course of the search that the twenty-five-year-old Velma is an incredibly talented young lady. And perhaps she is missing on her own volition, hiding from something in her past. It is also possible she’s been abducted by the Jewish gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Mayer Lansky.

The investigation leads 8 to befriending Dottie Parker, conversation with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, meeting with Coleman Hawkins and Smack Henderson, and being threatened by Siegel and Lansky. And that is just the first day. In the days that follow, other legendary figures such as Babe Ruth, Ethel Waters, and Mae West will be encountered in the search, all having connections to the intriguing Velma.

8 Ballo got his curious moniker when his mother was certain that he was going to be born a girl that she had the name Margrit picked out, but no male name. When he was born a boy, and his dad was out to sea, she merely wrote the number 8 down on the birth record, meant as a placeholder to be changed later, but never was. He is college educated, a veteran of the Great War, is in his mid-30’s, and has relationship issues.

He is aided in his investigation by a colorful group who represent the melting pot that is 1920s Brooklyn. His best is Pearle Hill, a business entrepreneur he has known since they were boys playing stickball on the streets around the turn of the century. Marty Feldman is a journalist for the Brooklyn Eagle and Stephen McGee is a cop in Bushwick. 8 occasionally sees a woman by the name of Asta Holm, until the mysterious Velma complicates things.

Where is Velma and why has she gone awry? Follow 8 Ballo through the streets of New York City in the Roaring ‘20s to find the answers to these questions. Velma Gone Awry is publishing on April 12th. Read on. Write on.

Matt Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries.

Cost has published four books in the Mainely Mystery series, with the fifth, Mainely Wicked, due out in August of 2023. He has also published four books in the Clay Wolfe Trap series, with the fifth, Pirate Trap, due out in December of 2023.

For historical novels, Cost has published At Every Hazard and its sequel, Love in a Time of Hate, as well as I am Cuba. In April of 2023, Cost will combine his love of histories and mysteries into a historical PI mystery set in 1923 Brooklyn, Velma Gone Awry.

Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Roaring ‘20s by Matt Cost

  1. John Clark says:

    Sounds great with all the historical elements.

  2. jselbo says:

    Velma and 8 Ballo – great combo

  3. Sounds intriguing. My spidey sense is tingling. Pre-ordered it. (Enjoy the riches!) 🥸

  4. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I’ve been writing about the era on the other side of the pond. Will have to check out Brooklyn, home of my forefathers!

  5. kaitcarson says:

    Sounds fabulous! Brings to mind many of the stories my dad told.

    • Julianne Spreng says:

      Me, too. My dad was a boy in the twenties. Had lots of wonderful tales. He was also a Zoot Suiter, fantastic dancer, and frequented jazz clubs. I can’t wait to read about 8.

    • matthewcost says:

      I’m finding it very similar to now. 100 years. Not much change.

  6. Julianne Spreng says:

    Just preordered my copy!

Leave a Reply