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Okay historical mystery set in 1854 Boston

  • May 27, 2011
Louisa and the Missing Heiress is a historical mystery set in 1854 in Boston. The title is misleading since the heiress in question was never really missing, just late to tea parties and then killed. The story contained rich, but not overwhelming detail about everyday life at that time and the real Louisa May Alcott's life.
I found the Louisa character charming, and I enjoyed the underlying humor in how she viewed others and herself. The other characters were vivid but generally not very deep or distinct from each other.
The whodunit wasn't very difficult to figure out. I was sure who the murderer was very early in the story, and it only became more obvious. The author was able to extend the mystery by having Louisa have so many questions to ask that she didn't ask some obvious questions early on. However, she still hadn't asked these questions when, near then end of the story, Louisa knew she was missing something but couldn't think of any questions she'd neglected to ask. The character was smart, so this didn't strike me as realistic.
When Louisa did figure it out who the murderer was (along with some details that, indeed, I never would have guessed), she acted stupidly: she didn't tell anyone who the murderer was, sent her only backup away (to fetch the police), then went alone and without a weapon to confront someone whom she suspected was about to kill again. This didn't increase the suspense for me. During her confrontation with the murderer, the author didn't use the murderer's name in order to "surprise" us with it later. That just made me feel insulted and irritated.
So, while I found the first two-thirds of the novel charming and enjoyable, the author hit too many of my pet peeves in the last third for me to enjoy it. If the things I pointed out above don't annoy you, then you'll probably enjoy this novel. There were no sex scenes. There was a very minor amount of both explicit and "he cursed" style bad language.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

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May 28, 2011
I know what you mean about the pet peeves. I haven't decided if it's better when they hit you early on or later on in the novel. Nice review!
June 04, 2011
Thanks. Personally, I'd prefer to hit pet peeves early on if it's a book from the library. That way I can stop and read something else. If I feel like I have to read the book and the pet peeve continues throughout the book, then I'd rather read a book having the pet peeve at the end so I can enjoy most of the book. ;)
June 06, 2011
Good points made. Now that I think about it, I probably like the pet peeves early on, so the ending of the book doesn't get ruined by the pet peeves.
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Debbie White ()
Ranked #119
I review books, do organic gardening (vegetables, fruit trees, etc.), mentor a young lady, and work with inmates at the local jail and state prison units. I live in a passive solar house (with an active … more
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About this book


Boston, 1854. Long before she achieves fame as the author of "Little Women," Louisa May Alcott is writing stories of a more lurid nature, inspired by her fascination with the dark and mysterious. Although her famous philosopher father, Bronson Alcott, knows nothing of her lowbrow literary pursuits and would not approve, her mother, Abba, and three sisters appreciate her vitality, independence, and ambition.Theirs is a frugal but always welcoming household where enlightened beliefs vie with the practical necessity of earning a living. But no previous experience prepares Louisa for the role of amateur detective she assumes when the body of her dear friend, wealthy newlywed Dorothy Wortham, is found floating in Boston's harbor.
Dorothy was clearly distraught in the days following her return from her yearlong honeymoon abroad. It's well-known that her family didn't approve of her husband, a confirmed fortune hunter. But Louisa suspects that some deeper secret lies behind her friend's tragic murder--and she sets out to learn the shocking truth...
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ISBN-13: 9780451233240
Author: Anna Maclean
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Obsidian Mystery
Date Published: June 7, 2011
ISBN: 9780451233240
Format: trade papberback
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