Murder In Burnt Orange
Jeanne M. Dams
Perseverance Press, Sep 2011, $15.95
Independent Hilda Johansson emigrated from Sweden to South Bend, Indiana to become a housemaid at Tippecanoe Place. Strong willed to make it on her own, fireman Patrick Cavanaugh and Hilda fall in love. They marry despite objections from both their families. She becomes a lady when her spouse becomes nouveau riche working for his uncle’s high income store Mallory’s Dry Goods. The oppressive heat of the summer of 1905 makes pregnant Hilda miserable and cranky.
To get the cranky Hilda’s mind on something else, Patrick’s Aunt Molly challenges her to use her cognitive skills to hear and see people she trusts to learn who ruined the switch on the train tracks deliberately killing and injuring crew and passengers. Hilda investigates the derailment and other recent nearby activity that involves unions, arson, and murder. An enemy of Patrick and Hilda orchestrates these disasters for a puppet master who wants both Cavanaughs dead.
A Hilda Johansson amateur sleuth is always fun to read because the recurring cast starting with the heroine come across as friends and bring to life small town Indiana at the turn of the previous century. The whodunit is complex with several twists and theories adding complications to “General” Hilda who commands her loyal troops because they trust she will solve the case.