Saturday, June 11, 2011
Poisoned Pen Press, 2011
Source: Received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I wanted to read this mystery because I saw that the sleuth was Edna Ferber, renowned author of Show Boat, Giant, and other American classics and that it featured magician Harry Houdini, who played a role in a Molly Murphy mystery by Rhys Bowen.
Before the mystery is even revealed, several interesting threads are presented. Edna Ferber is a girl reporter in the early twentieth century (1904); besides the prejudices she receives due to gender, she is also Jewish and receives various anti-Semitic slurs too. Then there is her family life with a blind dying father, domineering mother, and conflict with her older sister who disapproves of Edna's unfeminine profession. Furthermore Edna wants more out of life than her small town (she's like Belle!) and she bristles when her plainness is overlooked for the beauty of other girls.
Needless to say, the mystery is not always the main focus as a rich historical fabric is woven for the reader, skillfully juggling the main threads. I didn't know much about Ferber beyond her authorship of Giant nor do I know this time period so it was easy to lose myself in the flow of Ifkovic's writing and set my mind to deducing the murderer (which I was unsuccessful at doing but so what?)
Overall: I would classify this as more of a historical novel that happens to feature a mystery because of the long sections that don't focus on the mystery; for the lover of historical fiction, though, this is quite a delight.