Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hungry Spirits-Alice Duncan

Hungry Spirits
Alice Duncan
Five Star, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594149122

In 1921 Pasadena, debutant Stacy Kincaid who recently jointed the Salvation Army asks Daisy Gumm Majesty to teach a cooking class. Once the spiritualist understands her adversary, the daughter of her best client, is serious, she explains she burns water. Her family including her severely war injured spouse laugh at the concept of her teaching immigrants to cook as all including Daisy are thankful for Aunt Vi doing the cooking. However when Salvation Army Captain Johnny Buckingham asks, she says yes; she cannot refuse him.

Daisy learns that some of her students might be Germans. Though she knows these women did not cause the Kaiser’s war or the mustard gas permanent injuries to Billy, she loathes the race. Johnny gives her and the students cookbooks, which he chose based on price. Her first meal works reasonably well though one of the students vanishes before class ends when Police Detective Sam Rotondo arrives. However, the women want help from Daisy that has nothing to do with cooking while an anarchist scheme is boiling over.

The latest post WWI era “Spirits” novel is a terrific historical that contains a strong mystery subplot. Daisy and the strong cast including the repeat characters from previous books (see Strong Spirits and Fine Spirits) and the cooking class make for a fascinating deep look at 1921 California.

Harriet Klausner

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