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Strong Spirits
by Alice Duncan

Category: Fiction / Historical
320 pages; ISBN: 0821775170

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


Seventeen years old Daisy Gumm marries Bill Majesty just before the latter goes off to fight in the Great War. In France, the Kaiser’s troops gas Billy before shooting him. Billy returns home not as a World War One hero, but as an invalid with bad lungs and legs. Daisy must bring in money for the family to live on if they are to survive. She applies her only talent, conducting séances, a skill she has developed since she turned ten. Much of her repeat clientele consists of the wealthy living in the Pasadena, California area.

Daisy’s best customer is Mrs. Kincaid, wife of a banker. When Mrs. Kincaid hysterically calls her, Daisy arrives to provide solace to her client. Apparently, someone stole several thousand dollars worth of bearer bonds from her husband’s bank. Detective Sam Rotondo believes either the wheelchair bound Kincaid or cashier Del Farrington committed the crime. Sam demands Daisy work undercover finding relevant information about the Kincaids on her visits.

Fans of 1920s mysteries will gain much pleasure from Alice Duncan’s strong period piece police procedural. The story line provides a feel for the era as tidbits are treated as a matter of fact so that readers will feel they entered a time warp. Daisy who tells much of the tale is the nucleus that keeps the plot together as the rest of the cast interact through her though some of her humorous Twain-like soliloquies can distract a reader from the investigation. Fans will enjoy the strong spirited debut of Daisy Gumm and want more works like this one from Alice Duncan, an author who has taken over the early twentieth century bailiwick.

Harriet Klausner


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