cover image Girl with a Gun: An Annie Oakley Mystery

Girl with a Gun: An Annie Oakley Mystery

Kari Bovée. Spark, $16.95 trade paper (326p) ISBN 978-1-943006-60-1

Set in 1885, Bovée’s uneven first novel and series launch charts the early career of real-life markswoman Annie Oakley. After 15-year-old Annie performs well in a shooting contest in Greenville, Ohio, Buffalo Bill Cody gives her a contract with his Wild West Show. Annie travels with the show to St. Louis, where she soon finds her Sioux assistant, Kimi, dead under suspicious circumstances. Her investigation into what she’s sure is Kimi’s murder is complicated by the mysterious illness of her beloved horse, Buck; a rowdy new roommate; a sinister figure from her past; and her growing attraction to sharpshooter Frank Butler. Even for an era when children grew up quickly, plucky Annie seems implausibly wise and perceptive for her years, and depictions of Native American characters rely on stereotypes and clichés. A vivid setting helps offset some stilted prose, and a fast-paced, occasionally hectic plot keeps the pages turning. Readers interested in strong American women will welcome this new series despite its off notes. (June)