Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Dark Historical Mystery

It's Chicago during the 1893 World's Fair. Rosalind Perry hasn't come to enjoy the World's Fair. She's come to try to find out what happened to her sister. Her plan is to obtain work as a maid in Sloane House, one of the greatest Chicago mansions, and the house where her sister worked before she disappeared.

Rosalind is successful in finding a job as a maid at Sloane House, but finding out what happened to her sister is more difficult. The class structure in Sloane House is rigid. She's at the bottom, and the other servants are unwilling, or afraid, to answer too many questions about her sister. In addition, to the difficulties of her job, Douglass, the son of the owners, is paying more attention to her than she finds comfortable. His best friend, Reid, heir to a silver fortune, sees the problem and tries to protect her, but the issue of class is always present.

The book portrays the world of Chicago during the World's Fair in all it's glamour, danger an injustice. It makes the era live. Likewise, the issues of class are well illustrated in the interactions of the characters. The Sloanes don't consider their servants real people. The servants are there to serve them and when their usefulness is over, they
forget about them.

Rosalind, Reid, and Douglass are rather stereotypical. I found Rosalind a strange mixture of bravery and naivete. She continually thinks about how frightened she is and then takes terrible risks. Reid is also an unsettled character. His family is part of the nouveau riche. He's trying to do what his father wants and marry into high society, but he's not sure the glamour is for him.

The ending or the book is much darker than I expected although it follows well from the plot and characters. Personally, I think the ending is worth reading through some of the less interesting parts of the book. If you enjoy historical mysteries, this is a good one.

I reviewed this book for the Thomas Nelson BookLook Bloggers program.