It’s been so long since I listened to the first two books in this series, I was worried that coming back would be confusing or disappointing. Luckily, Amy Stewart has built such strong characters that it only took a few minutes to get reoriented to the world of the Kopp sisters. And while I’d definitely recommend reading the series from the beginning, this could be read on its own.
The Kopp sisters were actual people. Constance is the first lady sheriff’s deputy of Bergen County, New Jersey, hired to be the matron of the women’s jail. Since this is the third book, she’s established in the job and has gained a bit of notoriety after previous cases. There is of course the continued sexism and disbelief that a woman could hold such a position that Constance always faces, but now that’s off-set by some pretty ardent admirers for the Lady Sheriff.
This book didn’t have a big mystery exactly, it focuses on the Mann Act and its implications for the average young woman who didn’t fall into her designated role. Constance not only deals with two different girls in her jail arrested for “loose morals,” her home life reflects her work life when her youngest sister, Fleurette, runs away from home to join a vaudeville act. There is also the looming threat of war – America hasn’t joined in yet, but The Great War has begun in France. All of these storylines weave together in a very satisfying way.
But where this book shines is in the relationships between the sisters. Norma is abrasive and practical and Fleurette is vain and selfish and Constance is managing everything – but they obviously love and need one another. And Norma is downright hilarious. Some of her lines had me cackling. (And this is where I need to point out Christina Moore’s excellent narration, she really brings a lot to the story and her timing with Norma’s comebacks is *chef’s kiss*.)
Since this is historical fiction and based on actual people and events, there is gonna be some unpleasantness, especially with gender, sexuality and race. Because of the Mann Act, “white slavery” is talked about a lot (and I don’t need to explain why that phrase or the notion in general is offensive), and the term “colored” is used for the brief appearance of Black people. And sometimes, when you read books set in olden days, it feels like the author is maybe a little gleeful with open discrimination and hate, but that’s never been the sense I’ve gotten in these.
So, I absolutely recommend this series, especially if you have a soft spot for old timey lady detectives in well-researched historical fiction. I’m looking forward to getting into the next, it looks like there’s 7 out so far. And if you can, go with the audio.