This 2015 mystery by Amy Stewart is based on a real person, the first female crime fighter, and the plot comes from a newspaper clipping. It is set in the days in America when cars are just beginning to be used instead of horses. The opening scene has a horse and buggy driven by and carrying three sisters being “attacked” by a new-fangled auto. It is a lively scene which demonstrates the “sides” of the horse vs auto debate. The auto is driven by an inebriated Henry Kaufman of Kaufman Silk Dyeing Company. It is a hit and run, and Miss Constance, the oldest of the three maidenly sisters does not intend to let him get away with it. Other sisters are Miss Norma, the homebody, and the much younger, very attractive Miss Fleurette, the only one injured (slightly) in the accident.
The Dallas Morning News describes this novel-based-on-fact as a “fresh, winning, and delightful mystery with a warm heart, impish humor, and a heroine (Miss Constance) who quietly shatters convention.” I found this description to be apt.
Sheriff Heath comes into the investigation not as a love interest, but as a man who comes to admire Miss Constance and respect her skills in the solving of the mystery that occurs in the events before and after the accident and the harassment of the three sisters by Mr. Kaufman and his thugs.
There are moments of danger, moments of humor, and moments of moral courage as both family mysteries and the current mystery are examined and solved. It is a very satisfying read.
Watching Glass Shatter, an October 2017 publication by blogging friend, James J Cudney, is a darned good read. It is his debut novel, but at least one more is almost ready for publication, Father Figure. If you like stories about the complexities of families, you’ll LOVE this one. With the unexpected death of Benjamin Glass, father of a family of five boys, we watch the Glass family shatter and try through the efforts of Olivia, Ben’s widow, try to mend itself. Olivia herself, shattered more than any widow would be, is further devastated by a confessional letter from Ben left behind. His “secret” involves one of their five sons, but the letter does not reveal which one.
Olivia decides to visit each son, in his home, as she tries to make sense of the letter and determine “which one” the letter refers to. Unknown to Olivia, each grown son has been keeping a secret from her and the family. Irony abounds, and I kept turning the pages to find out more answers and satisfy my curiosity.
Cudney’s characterization is excellent, and I came to care about all six of the major characters. (I had no trouble keeping the characters and secrets “straight” because of the author’s transitions and format of the chapters.) Each son is very different from the others (true in all families), yet the love and sense of family they all come to feel is heartwarming. Cudney’s word choices and phrasing are spot-on as well, sweeping the reader along in the action while the reader enjoys the appeal of the writing.
I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars, not because the writer is a blogging friend (I bought the book), but because, as a serious reader, I enjoy good writing, fine characterization, and a darned good read.