Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. ~ Goodreads Blurb
By now I should know better than to read a book simply from looking at a cover, but I really wanted this to have a Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery feel to it. The style of the cover really grabbed me and I hoped that book would be worthy of its cover art. It did...in a way. While the art deco vibe doesn’t naturally correlate itself to a farmhouse in New Jersey where most of the story takes place, though there are visits to Paterson and NYC. The simplistic nature of the cover fits this book to a “T.”
The author, Amy Stewart, has done a great job digging up this story and bringing it to life. What she’s built, in fact, is more of a golem than a human being. The facts are there and Stewart uses them as a guideline for her story, even using real newspaper articles throughout. For this to work as historical fiction, I feel that there needed to be a bit more artistic license taken. The characters were flat at times, and the details added that should have created a more rounded character left this reader confused. One of the sister, Norma, keeps pigeons. In the author’s notes, I found that this was something added by the author. Now I don’t mind learning about new things in a sideways manner but there was no real point to the pigeons. The only role they fill is to give the character something to do. Now this may simply be a misunderstanding on my part, similar to Anne Shirley’s cake in
Constance Kopp is an incredibly strong person in real history. I wanted more fire from her character instead of the almost cowed character I was given. She only really came into her own near the end. While the maternal instincts of an older sister can light a spark under her, she seems to accept the changes and shocks to her life that might shake an average person seem to roll off her. This golem-like lack of emotions made it difficult to feel empathy for her character. I found myself hoping someone would get shot just so the story would have to move forward. There really isn’t a defining moment, or battle for Constance. Even the courtroom scene which should have made the character shine, left me wondering if that was it.
Amy Stewart is a good author, and I won’t let this novel keep me from reading the next book in the series(comes out September 2016) and cheering for Constance. I can only hope that the historic 1st woman deputy finally finds her spark and leaves a blaze of a story. Constance Kopp is such a good character and there is so much more room for development and I can’t wait to read the next book. As for Girl Waits With Gun, I borrowed it from the library and I don’t think I’ll buy a hard copy unless it’s to get the cover art designed by Jim Tierney. It ticks all the boxes for historical crime fiction I simply found myself wanting more.
A bit about the author, Amy Stewart from her website: Amy Stewart is the author of eight books. Her latest is Lady Cop Makes Trouble, which is the second installment in a series based on the remarkable true story of three sisters in the 1910s. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer