Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Author: Jennifer Kincheloe
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 365
Source: Directly from author
Publisher: Seventh Street Books (Prometheus Books)
First Published: November 3, 2015
First Line: "Los Angeles - 1907 - "Anna blanc wore a six-inch hairpiece made from the tresses of a yak."

Book Description from GoodReadsIt's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, she buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are covering up. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. 

If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding.

Anna must choose--either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.


My Review: Biscuits!  This was a good read!  From the first line I knew I was going to click with this author's writing style and humour.  One cannot mention the 'tresses of a yak' and go unnoticed in my world.

The next thing that surprised me (after the awesome first line) was the setting.  Early 1900's Los Angeles??  Yay!  I do love me an English mystery but this change of scenery was a breath of fresh air.  Kincheloe brings this era to life and it was interesting to see just how far we women have come in just over one hundred years.

The icing on the cake for me though was Anna herself.  Kincheloe has created a wonderful character that is a good mix -- Anna is a smart, independent young woman yet naive enough in her experience and decision making to make her a believable main character.  She's young, vibrant, quite spirited and funny.  She wants so much more out of life than sitting around waiting for a marriage proposal and is tired of being restricted on what she does, whom she spends time with by society and the men around her.  She takes matters into her own hands and that's when the fun begins.

The mystery itself was solid and had me changing my mind about the identity of the culprit. There were a couple of scenes that had me on the edge of my seat and many readers will enjoy the romantic storyline.  Initially I felt that the romance happened a little too fast but I quickly got on board and love the banter and heat between them.  

If I had one wish it would be that some of the secondary characters - perhaps Anna's array of chaperones, Madam Lulu etc - were used a little more.  They were varied and quite interesting and I hope to see many of them in future books (fingers crossed that the author is planning for this to be a series).

This was a wonderful debut which was filled with mystery, sass and a whole lot of humour.  Biscuits!  I loved it very much.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to author Jennifer Kincheloe for providing me with a complimentary copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.

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