A Hilda Johansson Mystery by Jeanne M. Dams
Review: When the husband of one of Hilda Johansson's closest friends is accused of murder when he finds, and keeps, the abandoned wallet of the dead man, Hilda jumps right in to clear his name in Indigo Christmas, the sixth mystery in this series by Jeanne M. Dams.
Hilda is still struggling with her change in economic and social status, from being a servant to having servants. An additional complication comes in the form of a very pregnant Norah who arrives on Hilda's doorstep after her husband Sean is arrested. Though Sean is soon released, the police still believe he's involved somehow. Even after Norah and Sean's daughter is born, they remain in residence at Hilda's home. In the meantime, Hilda decides to find out more about the dead man Sean was initially accused of killing and how he came to be sleeping in a barn that caught fire. Under the guise of a community outreach program, she enlists a group of young boys to be her eyes and ears. As she notes, "People never really looked at servants, never saw past the cap and apron to the human being inside." But she also knows that gives them the opportunity to observe and hear things they probably shouldn't, young boys share the same status, as it were.
Readers expecting a mystery may be disappointed with Indigo Christmas, at least initially. Much of the early part of the book is devoted to Hilda, herself an immigrant and until just recently in the employ of a wealthy family, lamenting how to remain friends with other servants while being the lady of her own house. Though of Swedish descent, she deplores the conditions of the Irish immigrants in her community. This discourse on social injustice and prejudice of the early 1900s substantially overshadows the nascent mystery plot.
About halfway through, a standard mystery does emerge, the most entertaining aspect of which is Hilda playing Sherlock Holmes to her own version of the Baker Street Irregulars. The boys are eager participants, asking questions of people and relaying the information to her. In exchange they are rewarded with chocolate or nickels. With what she learns, and from her own observations, she manages to piece together a potential solution to the crime and sets out to expose the real culprit. In the end, Indigo Christmas has an interesting and credible story but it's a shame the path it takes at first is so circuitous.
Acknowledgment: Perseverance Press provided a copy of Indigo Christmas for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Murder in Burnt Orange
Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781564745033; ISBN-10: 1564745031
Location(s) referenced in Indigo Christmas: South Bend, Indiana
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Indigo Christmas by Jeanne M. Dams — A Hilda Johansson Mystery
Publisher: Perseverance Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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