Thursday, November 30, 2017

"The Woman in the Camphor Trunk"

Jennifer Kincheloe is a public health research scientist turned writer of historical mysteries. She pens the Anna Blanc mystery series, set in 1900s Los Angeles, featuring a young socialite turned LAPD police matron with an insatiable need to solve crimes. Kincheloe recently entered the world of criminal justice herself when she took a job with the Denver Sheriff Department studying the jails.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new Anna Blanc novel, The Woman in the Camphor Trunk, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Joe scoffed, stuck both hands in her big skirt pockets and rummaged around, almost touching her thigh through three blessed layers of fabric.

Anna bit her lip. “Masher.”

He produced the framed picture. “That’s it. You’re out.” His finger shot toward the door. “This is my case, and I won’t have you disturbing the apartment before I’ve finished going over it.”

“I haven’t touched anything else.” She decided not to mention the tea.

He took Anna by the arm and steered her outside. “Stay away from my crime scene.”

“You’re just using that as an excuse to get me out of Chinatown. Well, I don’t want to go.” Anna turned and went back inside.

Joe followed. “Wolf didn’t authorize you to work this case.” He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her backward. Anna dragged her heels. Joe pulled harder. Anna sat down. She began to crawl back toward the crime scene where she belonged.

He stepped on her skirt. “I could arrest you.”

“But you won’t.”

“And why is that?”

“I’m a good sleuth and our chance of solving this crime is even better with two of us on the case. Admit it.”

“I knew once you got a taste of this case you wouldn’t leave it alone. You’re going back to Central Station where it’s safe.” He grabbed her under the arms, pulling her up and onto her backside.

She scooted along on her bottom, her skirt pushing up to reveal her stockinged shins, but Anna didn’t care. Why should she care? Propriety had gotten her nowhere. She simply closed her eyes tight so that she couldn’t see them.

Joe sighed and let go. When she opened her eyes, he was tugging down her hem. He extended a hand to help her up. She eyed him suspiciously.

He said, “We tracked mud on that floor. If you aren’t careful, you’ll stain your uniform.”

Anna looked at the muddy floorboards and considered. Joe knew more about laundry than she did, and she did need to wear this uniform tomorrow. She took his hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet.

“Sherlock, you make my life hell.”

“My pleasure.”
Page 69 finds Anna and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, in Chinatown where they’ve discovered the body of a missionary stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. It conveys the tone of the story and the tension between Anna and Joe. This is a mystery with humor and a strong romantic subplot. RT Book Reviews described Anna Blanc as “I Love Lucy meets Agatha Christie.” I think that’s perfect.
Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.

--Marshal Zeringue