Book Review: Miss Fortune
Written by Sara Mills –
Reviewed by Nike Chillemi –
A classic who-dun-it, how could I not be intrigued? The author went for the suggestion of a noir-mystery writing style, ala Dashiell Hammett, but didn’t over-do it. Miss Fortune by Sara Mills, set in 1947, and sporting a female private detective is a novel truly the author’s own, in a fresh, intriguing voice.
Murder mysteries are right up my alley and this one is a fun read. The fast-paced story supplies plenty of twists sure to keep any mystery reader turning pages.
Allie Fortune is the only female private eye in post war New York City and her male counter parts have dubbed her the P.I. Princess. She’s an insomniac, haunted by her past, who often sleeps on the sofa in her office. Of course, when a there’s a knock on her office door at four o’clock in the morning, it can only turn into big trouble.
Mary Gordon, a small nondescript woman, barges in. Allie agrees to help Mary, but with huge unvoiced reservations, as Mary’s story doesn’t quite add up.
Later, at her socialite parents’ house, for the usual Wednesday night dinner, Allie’s mother tries to set her up with yet another eligible bachelor. This one just happens to be handsome FBI agent Jack O’Connor. Allie is not interested in meeting a new man as she still pines for David, a soldier gone missing in the war.
Who does it turn out Jack is after? Mary Gordon. It seems Mary, something of the accomplished scam artist, is in cahoots with her conniving husband who used his army tour of duty in Europe to steal gold from a museum. It’s reputed this collection of ancient gold pieces once belonged to Helen of Troy. Now not only the Soviets are after Mary and her spouse, but also two vicious East German operatives. The author’s depiction of the relentless Communist German spies is spot on. East Germany was known for its agents’ extreme disregard for human life. If I have one nit picking problem with the book it’s that although Jack is under tremendous pressure and often exhausted, his appearance at times is a tad too rumpled. FBI agents of that era were impeccable in their attire.
Since Allie is already inside the case, Jack brings her into the FBI’s investigation. Allie agrees to partner with him, but only if Jack will use his FBI resources to help her find David. Jack agrees, but it’s obvious he has feelings for Allie. Allie’s pain over David has put her at odds with the Lord, however when she does encounter God once again, she does so fully.
The flashback scenes where Allie recalls times spent with her first love were flawlessly done and gripping. The night David saved her from an attacker in Central Park. Then there’s the night he was shot and she tended to his massive wound. And finally, the day he left for the war without ever knowing she loved him. I wanted to find David’s whereabouts as much as Allie did.
Although it pains him, at the end, Jack, an honorable Christian man, brings Allie a file containing information explaining what happened to David. I won’t be a spoiler and tell what was in that file, but I hope the next book in the series continues with the lives of these three intriguing characters.