Release Date: July 26, 2016
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical Mystery
In 1881 Chicago, the idea of a female detective is virtually unheard of. But when famed crime buster Allan Pinkerton opens his agency's doors to a handful of women, one intrepid actress with her own troubled past is driven to defy convention and take on a new and dangerous role...
Since the age of eleven, when her mother was murdered, the life of the theater is all Lilly Long has known. Now twenty-two, she has blossomed into an accomplished Shakespearean actress. But after her innocence--and her savings--are taken from her by a seductive scoundrel, Lilly vows to leave the stage, enter the real world, and save others from a similar fate. Following in the footsteps of the country's first female detective, Lilly persuades Allan Pinkerton to take her on.
Lilly's acting skills are a perfect fit for her real-life role as a Pinkerton operative. But her first case is a baptism by fire as she is sent to the small town of Vandalia to solve the mystery of a pastor who disappeared with his family--and the church's funds. When Lilly arrives, she finds the mere mention of the reverend's name provokes enmity or suspicious silence. Shadowed by a second Pinkerton agent with an agenda of his own, Lilly begins to uncover Vandalia's sordid secrets. But she'll have to deliver the performance of a lifetime to survive the final act of this drama.
AN UNTIMELY FROST by Penny Richards is the first of a new historical sleuthing series set in Chicago during the late 19th century. Lilly Long is an unlikely heroine in that she's an actress by trade, quite naive, and recently scorned no thanks to her handsome but double-dealing husband. Reeling from the demise of her marriage, Lilly applied for the position private investigator with Pinkerton, an established and quite popular detective agency, with the hopes of finding her husband and/or help other women like herself find justice after being taken advantage of by men.
As for the plot of AN UNTIMELY FROST, it wasn't much of a brain teaser in that PRichards didn't do a lot of foreshadowing nor was the setting atmospheric. The story, IMO, focused more on Lilly and her skill as a newly minted detective rather than the actual case of the missing Preacher and his family. I liked this debut enough but I wish there was more action, near-misses, daring feats, and maybe brighten up Lilly's character. Lilly's okay but she wasn't unforgettable at this point. That said, I might check out the next book just to peek at Lilly's growth and hopefully it'll be more exciting and can give me a good adrenaline rush.