by Jeanne M. Dams
Green Grow the Victims
Walker, June, 2001.
Hardcover, 210 pages.
Set in turn of the century South Bend Indiana, Jeanne Dams' Hilda Johansson series is a delightful and unusual standout in the historical mystery subgenre. Hilda, a maid to the wealthy Studebaker family, has developed a knack for solving murders in her (extremely limited) spare time. In this latest entry, Hilda is asked by her boyfriend's family to investigate the disappearance of Irish politician Daniel Malloy, who was seen beating his political rival to death just before he disappeared. Given a week off with pay by her employer to solve the mystery, Hilda sets out to find a killer.
Hilda is a very smart and independent young Swedish woman, who saves every penny she makes to contribute to the fund to bring the rest of her family to the U.S. She has a knack for solving mysteries, but in this case she is severely hampered by her lowly social status and the prejudice that South Bend's numerous immigrant groups have for each other. Hilda's Swedish family doesn't approve of her Irish Catholic boyfriend, Patrick Cavanaugh, and his family doesn't approve of her either.
Jeanne Dams does an excellent job of integrating the mystery with the turn of the century background, with all of its social repression, bigotry, racism and total lack of civil rights. Women were especially repressed; they didn't yet have the right to vote. This is a very well-written series, and Hilda is a charmer who is sure to garner more fans after this adventure.
Green Grow the Victims is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the August, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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