After building a readership with her stories of a contemporary American sleuth, Dorothy Martin, plying her skills in England (The Body in the Transept, Trouble in the Town Hall, etc.), Dams launched a new series with last year's Death in Lacquer Red. A historical set in the author's native South Bend, Ind., that novel introduced Hilda Johansson, a resourceful Swedish immigrant housemaid. Here Hilda returns for a second outing in which murders both local and national disturb the city's tranquillity. In the summer of 1901, class-consciousness, anti-immigrant bias and general chauvinism bubble beneath the surface of outwardly staid South Bend. The shooting of President William McKinley by Polish anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo and the murder of a prominent local builder, Roger Warren, threaten to inflame sentiments against all immigrants. Worse, Flynn Murphy, the brother of Hilda's friend Norah, is the chief suspect in Warren's murder. Despite the constraints of her position in the household of the wealthy Studebaker family, Hilda is determined to exonerate Flynn by uncovering the real murderer. Though she must grapple with a new language, a new country and the many limitations of her class and gender, Hilda proves up to the task. The insights into working-class life of a century ago are an added bonus in this entertaining mystery. Agent, Reece Halsey Agency North. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000 Release date: 05/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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