Disclaimer: Arc via Netgalley.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro might the best historical writer around who doesn’t get the props she deserves because her historical fictional has a supernatural twist to. There’s her Count St. Germain series, whose title character is a vampire, though the series emphasis is always on the time period. There’s the one about the nuns and the devil. The one about the werewolf Spanish prince.
This book concerns a news reporter Poppy after WW I. She is trying to follow in her father’s footsteps, which is somewhat difficult because, let’s be frank, there are certain views about the female gender at this time. Poppy’s bucking of tradition does get ground work not only by her father’s being a reporter, but also because her aunt is a woman who bucks tradition. It’s telling that this character that is never really on stage is such a powerful force.
Poppy is the best thing going for this book. Her reporting of a murder is aided by a ghost, and while her acceptance of such a state of affairs might be too quick, the interaction between these Miss Holmes and Mr. Watson is enjoyable reading.
The mystery itself is functional if not all that mysterious – the real charm of the book being Poppy herself. In some ways, the book would have been better if Poppy hadn’t been surrounded and added by so many men. It sounds strange, I know, especially considering the time period, but the book falls into that Poppy is the only truly good woman at times chapter. Even her closest friend isn’t supportive. The only woman who doesn't fit this pattern is her aunt with whom she lives, but that is more of an older/younger relationship. While the time period might constrict on this somewhat, there are other (two) female reporters mentioned in passing. Would it have been so hard to have Poppy have tea with them for advice or aid at one point?
Still, the book is an enjoyable read.