The Secret Life of Anna Blanc
Review: The year is 1907 in Los Angeles where Anna Blanc, a young idealistic socialite, lives with her over-protective domineering father. He restricts her freedom down to the very books she reads. Anna has dreams of becoming a detective like Sherlock Holmes (the books of which, among other mysteries, she takes from a friend's library and hides from her father). He demands that if she leaves their grandiose home, she must be accompanied by a woman chaperone. Without her father's knowledge and with the help of a close friend she at one time was able to sneak out of the house (without the guardian), catch a train, and marry a man she thought she loved. Her father found out, had her brought back by the police, fired her chaperone and quickly hired a new one. Plus, he had the marriage annulled. The new chaperone is easily bribed by Anna. For money, jewelry, clothes, and more she actually helps Anna by leaving together, hiding behind trees, changing from her clothes to Anna's, and allowing Anna to go where ever she wants to. Anna's only plan is to go to the police station and apply for a job under the name of Anna Holmes, in The Secret Life of Anna Blanc.
Anna is hired as a police matron with the LAPD. Not only does she lie about her name, she lies about her experience as an office worker saying she can type 300 words a minute, and her knowledge of the seedier parts of the city where the brothels are. It isn't long before she learns that a number of women from the brothels are dying. Anna believes they had been murdered, but police and coroner would not admit to this. They described them as accidental deaths or suicides. This was when Anna decides to take a stand and go out to prove that the women were indeed murdered. If she can do this maybe the department will accept that a woman can be a detective. If she fails she will be fired. If her father finds out he will either disown her or put more chaperones on her case. Her father has already found a man for her to marry, but he, too, will undoubtedly cancel the wedding. Anna must choose — continue trying to prove the women were murdered and find the killer, or be safe and lead a normal life of a wealthy married woman.
There is a lot of humor in The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, which takes a wry look back at the way women were treated in the early 1900s. The mystery is a rather light one, however; relatively little time is actually spent with Anna solving the crimes, with more of the narrative focused on the time and place and Anna's presumed place in society. Still, this is an entertaining book overall and it would be nice to see Anna return in a sequel, one where she can use her obvious skills at deception and deduction in a more challenging case.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc.
Acknowledgment: Seventh Street Books provided an ARC of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Secret Life of Anna Blanc: Los Angeles, California
— ♦ —
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe — A Crime Novel
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: November 2015
List Price: $15.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites