An historical crime novel set near New York – highly entertaining

Historical crime novels are becoming more frequent and I have read a few, often set in London or rural England. They are not my favourite type of crime fiction but I took a fancy to the description of Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart and especially to the fact that it is, apparently, based on real life events.

The story is set in 1914 in an industrial town near to New York where Constance Kopp lives with her sisters on an isolated farm. One day their buggy is run into by a motor car which is being driven recklessly by a young man. The man and his friends turn out to be well connected with the owners of the dye works which are the main employer in the area. They refuse to pay damages and Constance refuses to accept that so she is determined to make them recompense the sisters.

This is a highly entertaining novel. The sisters are all slightly odd and live an unusual life curtailed by an event that happened in the past and which is revealed to the reader as the book progresses. Constance is tall and lacks social graces but she has determination and she recruits the support of the local sheriff who is powerless in the face of the rich owners. People, and especially the brother of the three women, have expectations about how they should behave which Constance continually challenges. Along the way Constance also becomes involved with another young woman who has also been badly treated by the same man and she endeavours to assist her too.

The book is told with a wry humour from Constance’s point of view which is often quite naive. You understand only too well how Constance feels about injustice but you realise that it is a rare person who would pursue the case as far as she does which is, of course, why powerful people continue to oppress the less powerful. The book is filled with lots of interesting and entertaining details about her sisters and their characters and also the men who become involved in their case.

I enjoyed this book and can’t really think of anything similar that I have read set in the same period. It appears that it is the first of a series so I shall get hold of the next volume which I hope will be as entertaining.

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