A Lack of Temperance
Review: Anna Loan-Wilsey introduces traveling secretary Hattie Davish, who investigates the murder of a temperance coalition leader, in A Lack of Temperance, the first mystery in this historical series.
In November, 1892, it is just days before the Presidential election when Hattie arrives in Eureka Springs, Arkansas to assist Mrs. Edwina Trevelyan. “Mother” Trevelyan, as she was called by the ladies of the American Women’s Temperance Coalition (AWTC), had chosen this time and place to gather her supporters together, marching, singing, yelling, carrying placards, hammers and axes, breaking windows all to show their contempt for the evils of liquor. Someone even set fire to the local bar. Such was the scene when Hattie arrived. Taken to her hotel, Hattie was given telegrams and correspondence addressed to Mrs. Trevelyan and shown to her room, adjacent to Mrs. Trevelyan’s. Hattie sorted through the correspondence, putting everything in order, and then went out looking for her new employer. No one knew the whereabouts of their leader. Hattie took some time to explore the land, admire the beauty of the hills, and enjoy the mineral springs. When Mrs. Trevelyan was finally found, she was dead, curled up in her traveling trunk in the basement of the hotel. Trevelyan’s assistant told Hattie she could leave, her services obviously no longer needed, but Hattie’s hotel bill and her salary had been paid for the week and she intended to stay and fulfill whatever work she could do. Besides, in Trevelyan’s correspondence there were death threats, which someone apparently followed through on.
There is a good sense of time and place in this debut mystery, and Hattie Davish is an engaging amateur sleuth. The series premise is also a promising one, having Hattie travel with her typewriter to different settings, where she will no doubt find the opportunity to practice her sleuthing skills. The murder mystery plot is a little thin here, the killer's identity not too much of a challenge for Hattie, but on balance, A Lack of Temperanceis a solid start to this series.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of A Lack of Temperance.
Acknowledgment: Kensington Books provided a copy of A Lack of Temperance for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in A Lack of Temperance: Arkansas
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A Lack of Temperance by Anna Loan-Wilsey — A Hattie Davish Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2012
List Price: $15.00