Friday, November 24, 2017

G910 Book Review of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe

Name of Book: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Author: Jennifer Kincheloe

ISBN: 978-1-63388-080-1

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Part of a Series: Anna Blanc Mysteries

Type of book: Los Angeles, murder, brides, groom, 1907, mystery, murder, woman detective, humor, bickering chemistry, corruption, greed

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, she buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are covering up. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.

If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding.

Anna must choose--either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

Characters:

Main characters include Anna Blanc, an only daughter of a wealthy banker. She dislikes books like A Little Princess or Little Lord Fauntleroy that her father forces her to read (she could have given those books away to a library or something instead of destroying them...) but she loves mysteries and wants to work as a detective and to be away from her father. She is resourceful, naive, clever, intelligent and isn't afraid to sacrifice for a cause. Joe Singer is Anna's sort of on-and-off boyfriend who is police chief's son and loves music (piano) and he also likes Anna much to his consternation. The bickering is the fun part in the book. There is also Edgar Wright, Anna's fiancee who loves her way too much and of course numerous prostitutes who ask her for help.

Theme:

Struggle for equality is not a new notion

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Anna's, Joe's, and at times other characters also make their views known. Because the cover looked serious, I was expecting a serious read; I wasn't expecting to find the story hilarious nor did I expect to love the chemistry between Anna and Joe, especially how Anna "sacrifices" herself for police work. I would have liked there to be a bit more explanation as to how the killer achieved what he had achieved.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist turned writer of historical mysteries. She si the winner of the Colorado Gold contest for emerging writers.

Opinion:

Mystery and comedy are not the words I ever thought I'd use to describe a book because just the word itself , mystery, has seriousness about it with taciturn detectives who seem more than human. It often seems that being less than perfect is not acceptable. It's really a surprise and delight to come upon an all too human heroine who is both efficient yet bumbling and knows how to get the job and is passionate about her work. (Sort of a detective version of Don Quixote for a better comparison.) I also found it shocking about the treatment Anna received by her colleagues at the station, and that detectives seem to care so little for human life. I do wonder how much of the treatment was true for women back then, although its not difficult to imagine that all of it is true.

Given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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