Thirty years have passed since the Civil War erupted, and feelings still run deep in the town of Galena, Illinois, where Hattie Davish, a traveling secretary, is assisting Sir Arthur Windom-Greene, her wealthy employer, in the research of a biography. General Cornelius Starrett is the subject, and his quiet Christmas is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of his son, Henry. Henry stirs up long-buried memories of the war, and when he’s found dead, Hattie’s budding Pinkerton-like traits are put to work to uncover the killer. Readers of A Lack of Temperance will appreciate callbacks to Hattie’s previous adventures in Eureka Springs and the reappearance of Dr. Walter Grice. Like the men in Hattie’s life, the reader will find her keen intelligence insightful and her naiveté endearing. Hattie has a plethora of colorful suspects to consider before Christmas Eve, making this a perfectly cozy murder mystery read, just in time for the holidays.
This review first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Historical Novel Review. I was provided with a copy of this book for the purposes of a review.