Thursday, September 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

This past week, I took care of a deficiency in my novel reading: I think I may have been the only person who hadn’t yet read Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart.

This fast-moving historical novel is based on a true-life character, Constance Kopp, who became a female deputy sheriff in Paterson, N.J., back in the early 1900s.

Constance and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, live on a farm outside of town, essentially hiding from the world, having had a fear of strangers instilled in them from birth by their now-deceased mother. Norma prefers animals and farmwork to people so the isolation doesn’t bother her. The significantly younger Fleurette, extremely pretty, pampered, and innocent to the point of gullibility, wants more interaction with others because she loves drama and being admired. And then there’s Constance. Her motivating concerns are revealed through the course of the novel.

Tall and imposing, Constance has a no-nonsense approach to life. She’ll do anything to take care of her sisters. Previously, that has meant housework and farmwork and worrying about finances. This changes when, during a trip into town to shop, they are involved in an accident. A reckless driver plows his car into their horsecart. Although their injuries are relatively minor, the cart is ruined. The driver, Henry Kaufman, owns one of the local silk mills. He’s a belligerent bully who has no intention of taking responsibility for the damage he’s done. When Constance presses for payment, Henry unleashes his squadron of thugs on the Kopp sisters. He’s employed these men as strikebreakers in the past, and they know how to instill terror.

The Kopps endure bricks through their windows, an attempt to burn down their house, death threats, and most horrible of all, threats to kidnap Fleurette. Although Constance has enlisted the help of local law enforcement, discovering an ally in the attentive Sheriff Heath, it is Constance’s bravery and commonsense response to each new threat, as well as her determination not to cave in to the powerful factory owner, that brings the adventure to a satisfying conclusion.

The quirky Kopp family guarantees an enjoyable read. Book two is out now and I’ll make sure it doesn’t take me as long to get to that one.