Book Review for “Clever Girl: A Nellie Bly Novella” by David Blixt
“Tell a story to catch a story,” that’s what Nellie Bly does to write her investigative reports. In this case, the story she tells is that she’s woman who only wants a bill to not get passed by the New York legislature. She says that if gets passed, it could ruin her husband’s (less than legitimate) business. The story she’s trying to catch is one that will finally expose the so-called “King of the Lobbyists” of taking and making bribes to kill or pass bills in Albany. Entrapment? Maybe. But corruption in politics needs to be exposed, and Nellie Bly hates injustice, and she’ll stop at nothing to do so.
In this third book about Nellie Bly, Blixt moves forward to the next big story after her insane asylum and baby selling pieces, to her uncovering corruption in New York’s State Capitol. Much like in his novelette “Charity Girl, Blixt uses a shorter format as a type of second segue towards the next big story of Bly’s career – traveling around the globe (in less than 80 days) – which I understand will be the focus of his next full-length Bly novel.
By the way, don’t be confused; this is a novella. Mind you, Goodreads and Amazon show this book has about 250 pages, which is usually full-length novel format. However, when you’re just over 50% into the file (if you read it on Kindle, as I did), you’ll suddenly find yourself at the end of the narrative. What you’ll get after that are actual transcripts from NY State hearings and some of the other newspaper articles that came out at the time from both the World (where Bly was employed) and a couple of its rival papers. I have to admit that this was somewhat bothersome for me, because some of the more – shall we say – juicy bits from these hearings and articles already appeared inside the story. In fact, there were pieces of the transcripts of testimony that Blixt inserted into the novel, and then later recounted from Bly’s viewpoint. I found that to be superfluous, especially because I much preferred his fictional accounts to the dry transcripts themselves. Plus, if he was already going to all the full transcripts at the end, I’m unsure why these excerpts were in the novella at all.
This is the only reason why I’m not giving this book a full five stars, because I truly enjoyed everything else here. Blixt once again gets fully into Bly’s heart and soul, to figure out what was going on in her head while all this was going on. This short book does seem to point up even more Bly’s sense of morality and justice, while not shying away from politics, making me admire her even more than I did before. In fact, after reading all of these books, I feel like I’ve become practically invested in Bly’s career, even though she’s been gone for so long. Finally, I again remember that Blixt is a man, and yet he still succeeds at writing a very convincing, and empathetic, first-person female character, which I find so admirable. I think that for this, I’ll recommend this novella and give it (yet again) a very solid four out of five stars.
Sordelet Ink released “Clever Girl: A Nellie Bly Novella” by David Blixt on March 30, 2020. You can purchase this book via Amazon (affiliate link) in paperback, or you can find it on David’s website where you can sign up to get the file for free! You’ll also find other free stuff there. David also has a very nice blog with more information about Nellie Bly!
David Blixt’s other Nellie Bly books are: