I’m fairly picky about which mystery series I follow. They are formulaic by design so if there aren’t engaging characters and interesting stories, I tend to lose interest pretty quickly. The story of Constance Kopp and her sisters: Norma and Fleurette caught my interest immediately and is that start of what I hope will be a fun, somewhat historically factual mystery series.
The story takes place in 1914 New Jersey. On a rare outing into town, the somewhat reclusive sisters’ buggy is run down by a reckless silk factory owner in his automobile. Constance attempts to get the man to make restitution and she and her sisters are quickly subject to threats, intimidation and harassment in the form of bullets and bricks aimed at their farm house. Constance, whose height and ambivalence toward romance and domesticity set her apart from the average woman in 1914, takes it upon herself to resolve the situation. There’s tension, family secrets and a picture of domestic life in the early 20th century.
There are a lot of things I appreciated about this book. First of all, Constance and her sisters, the silk factory owner and the dispute over the buggy are all real people and events that happened. Though Ms. Stewart obviously fills in the blanks that the public record leaves. The relationship between the sisters whose personalities are distinct and dynamic. Though Constance herself has no interest in the typical trappings of 1910s domestic life, she in no way scorns it and has a great friendship with her sister-in-law who is practically a model 1914 housewife. Also, the imagery of the three German sisters living a rural life in the early 1900s made me nostalgic for my grandmother, who came from a similar background (though I’m reasonably sure Grandma Schneider never shot a revolver at anyone). The second novel in the series was released today. I’ll refrain from giving the title as at does give a bit of a spoiler about Constance’s fate.