I loved the first book about Constance Kopp, Girl Waits with Gun, and this one thankfully gave me more of the same. In this book, Constance really wrestles with the responsibilities of her job as a female deputy sheriff in 1915, when a dangerous convict escapes on her watch. To make matters worse, the sheriff who made her a deputy isn’t sure the city will allow him to give her a badge, so he demotes her to “lady prison warden” instead.
Constance is determined to get her job back and save her reputation (and her own self-respect) by hunting down the escaped convict. This takes her down roads that are different from the sheriff, and presents an interesting case she needs to unravel.
For the last two months, I’d been riding along anytime a woman or a girl was caught up in some criminal matter. I’d served divorce papers to an estranged wife, investigated a charge of illegal cohabitation, chased down a girl attempting to run away on a train, put clothes on a prostitute who was found naked and half dead from opium in a card room above a tailor’s shop, and sat with a mother of three while the sheriff and his men ran through the woods looking for her husband, over whose head she had broken a bottle of brandy… It would be no exaggeration to say that the moments I have just described were among the finest of my life.
I don’t want to tell you too much about this book, but I felt Stewart really continued to develop Constance’s character. Constance once again has to figure out what she wants to do with her life in a world where she doesn’t fit in and her strengths (literally) are not appreciated. This novel is more about the journey Constance is on, and what she learns from it. There’s a little less drama in this book, and more emphasis on the mystery instead of Constance’s relationship with Heath and her sisters. Although Stewart does introduce us to Heath’s wife, an interesting character and one who may complicate Constance’s work.
As in the last book, Stewart uses real life crimes, people, and places, and that gives this book a really authentic period feel. I always appreciate when an author gives me detailed information at the end of the book about what was real and what was fictionalized. She also gives you a sense of the practical side of crime-fighting, with all of its limitations and frustrations. Some people may find this book slower than the other one, but I liked it that way.
If you haven’t read the first book, go read it! And then read this one. You won’t be disappointed.