Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Girl Waits With Gun (Amy Stewart)

Girl Waits With Gun
(A Kopp Sisters novel, Book 1)
Amy Stewart
Mariner Books
Fiction, Historical Fiction/Mystery
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: The three Kopp sisters - eldest Constance, dour Norma, and energetic young Fleurette - live by themselves on a small New Jersey farm, a status that worries their married brother Francis no end; don't girls need a man to mind their affairs and protect them? But the Kopps are no ordinary girls, raised by an immigrant mother to be self-reliant, almost to the point of paranoia, and never trust anyone... especially not the police. But one evening in 1914, their isolation is shattered when a motor car crashes into their horse buggy. All Constance wanted from the man was the fifty dollars needed for repairs, but Mr. Kaufman and his goons aren't used to being held accountable for their actions, especially by women. What began as a simple accident escalates to threats and violence. Fleurette finds the whole affair terribly exciting, like something from a serial. Norma warns that they should just walk away and mind their own business, and maybe Kaufman will leave them alone. But Constance finds herself drawn deeper, especially as Kaufman's other crimes remind her of an incident in her family's own past.

REVIEW: Author Amy Stewart mostly writes nonfiction titles, and based this book off real people and actual events, if with some creative liberties taken in details and personalities. The early 1900's were moving toward modern times, but with many relics of the past hanging on; labor rights were nonexistent, with factory owners running personal kingdoms and keeping employees in conditions just shy of outright slavery, while women's rights were spotty at best. The idea of a lady acting as her own master, let alone becoming a detective (as Constance essentially does to see that justice is done), was virtually unheard of in America, particularly when she's a woman of modest means and her opponent belongs to a family of wealthy factory magnates. Constance doesn't set out to challenge society's norms, save so far as staying on the farm with her sisters despite being an unmarried mid-thirties "spinster," but her sense of justice leads her far outside her comfort zone to find a place where she unexpectedly belongs. She and the other characters come to life in many little details. The story moves decently, with only a few lulls now and again and an ending that feels just slightly overlong. If it reads like the pilot episode to a period mystery series... well, in some ways, that's what it is. I found it entertaining, and expect I'll read the next volume in the adventures of the Kopp sisters.

You Might Also Enjoy:
A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) - My Review
The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective (Catherine Louisa Pirkis) - My Review
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith) - My Review

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