My Review of A Deceptive Homecoming
The fourth entry into the Hattie Davish Mystery series is one of the best reads I've had all year. No one does historical mystery fiction better than Anna Loan-Wilsey. She is simply superb at the research behind the books and masterful at folding it into brilliantly written stories with characters and descriptions that bring the 1890s alive for readers. And, the mid-1890s was a fascinating period in the history of the United States, a time of innovation and progress on the cusp of a new century. Reading the Hattie Davish series allows one to experience the excitement of the changing times while showing an appreciation and connection to the past. I am always thrilled to learn bits of history that Loan-Wilsey has pulled from the lesser known facts surrounding famous names and events from our country's past. As a traveling secretary with a meticulous eye for detail and a knack for solving crimes, Hattie Davish is a character who takes us on a journey of intriguing discovery.
In a Deceptive Homecoming, readers finally get to see where Hattie's life began, where she took form and purpose. She has returned to her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri to attend the funeral of one of her best friend's father and to be of assistance and comfort. But it would seem that her friend, Virginia Hayward, doesn't welcome her aid or comfort concerning her father Frank's death. Hattie is at a loss to understand Virginia's demeanor, and becomes even more at odds with Virginia as Hattie begins to question the identity of the man in Frank Hayward's casket. Coming home has also brought a reunion with Mrs. Chaplin's School for Women, the place where Hattie became a skilled secretary and learned to fend for herself through her education. Always grateful for her experiences at the school, she can't help but become involved in the problems that are besieging her alma mater. Bizarre happenings and missing money at the school would appear to be separate from her problems with Virginia, but are they? And, as Hattie digs deeper into the mysteries surrounding her old friends, her own personal history comes back to haunt her. Hattie's search for the truth and possible murderer take her through the streets of a transformed St. Joseph to the horrors of a lunatic asylum. It's a treacherous trip down memory lane.
Anna Loan-Wilsey has now given readers four great multi-layered stories, full of history and suspense. With each book, I become more convinced that the 1890s is an amazing time in which to start a series about an independent, smart woman who, like the times, are moving forward and breaking barriers that once were thought impenetrable. I can't wait to see where this ingenious author takes us next.
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