I really, really love Molly Murphy. For me these books are an inhale – as in, when one is available, I don’t look up from the pages until I am finished reading. Molly came to readers through Ellis Island in 2001 (for Molly, it was 1901), and the books kept appearing until 2017, when I was afraid the series had come to a natural end. Starting her adventures with “The next morning I sailed for America with another woman’s name”, Molly proceeded to shove her way into reader’s hearts as she made her hardscrabble way through New York City, finding work as a lady private detective.
I loved Goodman’s novel last year, The Sea of Lost Girls, and I love this one even more. It’s very of the moment, as it involves a powerful newspaper magnate who has been sexually harassing his female employees. Like last year’s novel, Goodman’s concern is the shame the women feel for something that is not their fault. She expands these horizons, making the book specific (an element in every successful novel, to my mind, is specificity) by tying the shame element to her two main characters as well.
I remember when Rhys Bowen started writing her Molly Murphy series. I inhaled them the second they were published. I loved (and still do) the mix of the feisty Molly, her journey of discovery as a new immigrant, the clever mysteries, and the turn of the century settings. Rhys Bowen has the gift of narrative. I am so happy to tell you – because I want to make you a fellow fan – that Mariah Fredericks has that very same gift.
I have so far inhaled all three of her books featuring ladies’ maid Jane Prescott, who works for the wealthy Mrs. Louise Tyler around the 1910’s. She has a way with a story, and a way of getting you to care about and be invested in her characters. In this novel Jane is on “vacation”, so she goes home. Home for Jane is a refuge for fallen women, run by her uncle, a Presbyterian pastor. He takes women who come from the streets and gives them a place to live, something to eat, and a little hope for the future and a different way of earning a living.
This tightly woven thriller-slash-police procedural is set in New York City, and like that city, the pace does not let up, from first page to last. It opens with Jo Greaver, a young cosmetics magnate, on her way to meet her blackmailer, toting a huge bag of cash. To the reader it’s not clear why she’s being blackmailed or who is doing the blackmailing, but it’s very clear something is very wrong and that very definitely something will go wrong.
It does, and it’s a cascade of wrong things, things that string poor Jo up tighter and tighter. There’s a shootout at the blackmail meetup, leaving Jo injured. She attempts to get through her day pretending she’s fine but the pain finally kicks in. There’s a dead, or at least seriously injured person, at the blackmail meetup. And the police have a bag load of evidence tagging Jo as the murderer.
L.A. Chandlar is the national best-selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series: The Silver Gun (2017), The Gold Pawn (2018), and The Pearl Dagger (2019). She also wrote the nonfiction book, Brass: Fight to Keep Creativity Alive (2015). She grew up in Michigan. Fans of the Phyrne Fisher books or Rhys Bowen’s Lady Georgie books would enjoy these reads.
Carin Michaels, a freelance journalist and playwright, interviewed L.A Chandlar during her book tour stop in Ann Arbor.
Michaels: I met you on May 18, 2019 at an interactive workshop that you held for writers called Keep Creativity Alive at a Michigan Sisters in Crime conference. This local chapter of writers is great because it promotes professional development of women crime writers.