Having been a mystery buff for over fifty years but a historical fiction buff for less time, I never read the Gilded Age Chicago Mysteries. I’m delighted that this was reissued and that I chose to listen to it recently. Evangeline (Engie), a wealthy single woman of marriageable age, teaches at Hull House and has become immersed in Jane Addams’ and Helen Gates Starr’s mission, when a very promising student is found dead in an upscale hotel. Elsa, a smart, curious and beautiful German immigrant is dead and her twin, Franz arrested for her murder. Engie ropes in her childhood friend Freddie, an aspiring journalist stuck in a law career he hates to investigate. She is fairly sure the police are more focused on Franz’s political leanings, which are anarchistic, than what really happened. This is a well plotted, though given away too early, mystery about class, women’s roles, Hull House, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, full of temporary buildings that cost a fortune to build and human beings. Children still earn a living in factories instead of going to school. The murder of a poor young woman is solved quickly, her death unimportant. Engie moves between all of these worlds, enjoying her wealth and privilege but also committed to raising others up. This is a fun, engaging novel with great characters. As to the narrator of this audible book, she was GREAT, five stars EXCEPT for Freddy’s voice. He’s a major character and the voice she chose for him grated. So one star lost but overall not a deal breaker.
Published by Emily Leader
I have been an avid reader since Dick and Jane met Sally. At age 7, I read my parents' first edition of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I am a retired lawyer and so read almost only fiction for pleasure. I'm adding in nonfiction these days, largely on social justice matters but also history, biography, and weird topics that catch my imagination. I used to read only serially, one book at a time. Presently, I read paperbacks, hardcovers, listen to audible, listen to CDs and read online through Net Galley. Covid-19 has caused me to read a lot so I have re-upped my Goodreads challenge for 2021 and am starting to review at least my favorite finds annd, perhaps, some stinkers. View all posts by Emily Leader