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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Headline: Girl Waits With Gun---really,Philadelphia Sun,Nov 3,1914!

Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters, #1)Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although the blurb by Elizabeth Gilbert calls this " a smart, romping, hilarious novel", I will agree with the smart. At times it hardly romps though it does move relatively fast and only once did I laugh loudly and long; toward the end of the book.

Despite the, in my opinion, misleading endorsement on the front cover, directly above the lovely illustrated heroine, the story is well done and interesting. Based on the true story of a dye manufacturer's spoiled son and his careless collision of his automobile with the horse drawn carriage of the Kopp sisters on the streets of Patterson, NJ in 1913, it is an old-fashioned crime story using the newspaper accounts, letters and trial transcripts of the event.

Since this plot would be rather thin and could be covered in far less than the 400+ pages of the novel, Amy Stewart, the author has invented a secondary plot of a factory girl, taken advantage of by the aforementioned spoiled son, whose name by the way is Henry Kaufman. Lucy Blake gave birth to the child and kept him but when the dye workers went on strike she had to give him up temporarily to others and when the strike was broken the child had disappeared.

Constance Kopp, as the eldest of the three Kopp sisters takes it upon herself to write to Kaufman asking for the $ 50 dollars that it cost to have their carriage repaired. Kaufman ignores the letter and so Constance takes other measures, which leads to harassment by Kaufman and his unsavory cohorts. Against the better judgement of Norma, the second Kopp sister, Constance engages the help of the local sheriff, Bob Heath.

She also encounters Lucy Blake and becomes obsessed with finding Lucy's child, since she believes Kaufman and his sister, Murial Goldfarb are somehow responsible for the child's disappearance. Heath cannot help in the search because not only won't Lucy speak to him, but once her tenement is burned down she has disappeared, too.

The adventuresome and headstrong Constance makes forays into New York and meets a photographer who now works on police and private investigations. In the meantime, Norma, who is content to remain on their farm and work with her pigeons and avoid all involvement with the outside world is less than encouraging. The third sister, Fleurette, is a precocious 17 year old with a vivid imagination who is thrilled at all the activity and treats it as a great adventure.

All of the characters are very well developed, although I'm not sure about the relationship between Sheriff Heath and Constance. We find midway through the book that he is married but there are strange undercurrents in their interactions. Particularly amusing is James Ward, the family lawyer for the Kaufman family, although he is a minor character who only appears twice in the story--once almost without making an impression.

The time period is nicely depicted and I love the use of words that my Mom used to use and which I haven't heard in years and years, such as chiffonier.

All in all, not the run of the mill mystery--and certainly a fun read. This was a complimentary copy from BookBrowse in return for my participation in a readers' discussion that begins on May 10.

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