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A Lack of Temperance (A Hattie Davish Mystery) Kindle Edition
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As A Lack of Temperance opens Hattie has been traveling by train and is just arriving in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a mountainous resort town with lush vegetation, numerous health-promoting natural springs, and steep winding streets and walkways all so temptingly described that I am now determined to visit. Hattie hasn’t had a chance to meet her employer Mrs. Trevelyan yet and is just settling into her hotel when a cry of “Fire!” draws her out into the street. But it’s not the hotel that’s ablaze. A group of hatchet wielding women in town for a temperance meeting are smashing whiskey barrels pulled from a saloon that’s now burning and “Mother Trevelyan”, Hattie’s new boss, is front and center leading the destruction.
When Mrs.Trevelyan is found dead the next morning Hattie pulls out her typewriter and uses her personal secretary skills of organization, summation, and careful attention to detail in an attempt to solve the murder, which takes her all over town and involves her with a wide variety of locals and visitors, including a handsome doctor. To mull things over and attempt to relax in her downtime Hattie roams the surrounding verdant hills adding specimens to her plant collection, a hobby that helps her discover more clues but also puts her danger.
Characters have complex sometimes unexpected back-stories, only gradually discovered by Hattie and the reader, which give the story a nice heft. As far as the mystery goes, I didn’t guess the killer so I didn’t find it predictable. Hattie’s own story hasn’t been completely revealed by the end of the book, there’s more to learn about both her history and Sir Arthur Windom-Greene, a man who stays off stage in this episode but who acts as a sort of sponsor helping Hattie secure employment. A Lack of Temperance was a vacation-like treat to read and I’m looking forward to starting the next book in the series.
Hattie Davish is a traveling secretary who arrives in Eureka to serve as secretary for Mother Trevelyan, president of the women's temperance movement. Eureka is the site of the national meeting for the American Women's Temperance Coalition timed to coincide with a vote on Proposition 203 to criminalize the sale of alcohol. Before Hattie can meet her new employer, the temperance leader is murdered. A local bar owner is charged with the murder, but Hattie doesn't believe he is guilty and sets out to do some investigating on her own. With her meticulous eye for detail and order, she uses her typewriter to keep track of events and people, compiling a list of questions to try and connect the dots. She becomes acquainted with some interesting characters during her query, the delightful older sisters, Lucy and Lizzie, and the charming Dr. Walter Grice. Secrets are buried deep in this historical mystery, and Hattie encounters much personal risk, but she is as diligent in the undertaking of detective work as she is in her secretarial duties. She even discovers a few things about herself in the process.
Anna Loan-Wilsey has written an interesting, engaging historical mystery that left me looking forward to the next installment of the Hattie Davish series. 1892 turned out to be a very good year.
As a mystery, again perhaps because if my own limitations as a reader, the ending felt contrived rather than organic. Some of the characters felt the same, more flat and stereotypical than real. Are we to believe that women if this era truly grew dizzy at the slightest impropriety? While men may legitimately perceived this and women may have played to it, the first person descriptions made me a bit ill, though no one can call the heroine a weak woman in her choices.
Most recent customer reviews
This novel exceeded my expectations both in historical content and in the mysteries and solution.Read more