Jennifer R. Kincheloe’s debut historical mystery, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, is just out from Seventh Street Books. Below, read event staffer and mystery enthusiast Meike Alana’s review.
- Post by Meike Alana
T o all appearances (which are of the utmost importance to most people in her social circle), debutante Anna Blanc, protagonist of Jennifer R. Kincheloe’s debut, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, lacks for nothing. She and her father, a wealthy influential banker, live in a mansion in the finer part of town with a full staff of servants. Anna wears exclusive handmade fashions crafted by Vionnet at the House of Doucet, hairpieces made of yak hair, designer shoes and extravagant custom-made hats.
But Anna yearns for a different life altogether—what she really wants to be is a detective like Sherlock Holmes. She hides true crime novels and police procedurals between the covers of the classic books she that are suitable for a girl of her station. She dreams of being a member of the police force and helping to solve the crimes she reads about.
One day she seizes her opportunity. She is able to temporarily evade the watch of her chaperone and use an alias to take a job with the Los Angeles Police Department. She swaps her fashionable clothes for the dowdy uniform of a police matron and quickly discovers that someone has been murdering prostitutes. The LAPD isn’t taking the case seriously, and Anna feels that it’s up to her to catch the killer. But she has to do so before anyone discovers her charade—if the police find out they’ll fire her; if her father finds out he’ll be furious and lock her up at home; and if her fiancé finds out he’ll cancel the wedding. And she has to figure out these confusing emotions she feels every time she’s near fellow policy officer Joe Singer…
Anna is a delightful young heroine—by turns immensely resourceful and then as wildly impetuous as only a teenager can be. As she dons one false identity after another we get to witness her intelligence and adaptability, but her youthful emotions sometimes cloud her judgment. The book has us jumping back and forth between Anna’s worlds—the pace is fast, fun, and furious and will leave your head spinning.
You can find copies of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. We recommend Kincheloe’s novel to fans of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series and those who enjoy Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher novels.