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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc - Jennifer Kincheloe

This is a tough one to quantify my feeling about.  On the one hand, I found the main character problematic and the story a bit rambling, but on the other hand, it was the first story I've been able to lose myself in for any length of time in recent memory, and I found the plotting very well done.

 

Kincheloe adeptly captures the lack of agency women in the US had in the early 1900's; indeed it's the first time I've read anything historical that made me feel a modicum of the frustration independent minded women of the age must have felt.  Though if I'm being objective, I do gravitate towards stories I know are about women who plowed their way through the obstacles that stood between them and their goals, so my claim may not sit on the broadest of foundations.

 

But while Anna certainly plowed through the obstacles in her path, and was certainly intelligent enough to accomplish her goals and be an investigator. she was also terribly bubble headed and naive.  I found it a little hard to swallow, and a little irritating. I also balked at her desecration of books - I don't care how big an ass her father was, she should have found a better way of hiding her reading.  

 

There were a few throwaway lines about animal death and cruelty that I found gratuitous too, although they were truly only throwaway lines; no details (which makes them even more unnecessary, but better than entire scenes).  The book's focus is on crimes against women (trigger warning btw), so if the author was going for 'atmosphere' with the animal lines, I'd argue she went overboard; the scenes in the brothels and the back alleys and stables lend plenty of gritty atmosphere already.

 

And finally, while I found the 'romance' completely unbelievable, I still found it entertaining.  Go figure.  I also enjoyed most of the characterisations a lot - especially the rogues.  Kincheloe is very talented at bringing life to all her characters, even the secondary ones.

 

All in all, I think it's a first that is not without a lot of promise.  There's a lot of talent evident in this book, but I think I'd have enjoyed it even more if the story had been a little tighter, the main character not quite so naive.  She's definitely an author I'll keep an eye out for, even if I don't rush madly out and pre-order.

 

This fits the category for my current space on Snakes and Ladders.