Powell’s narrative resonates both as an engaging mystery and a portrait of the prejudice faced by Irish immigrants in Gilded Age Massachusetts, set against the backdrop of a wealthy industrialist whom local police officer Stanley wants in his corner. The prejudice is increasingly magnified in how the criminal justice system treats poorer, less politically-connected suspects and how the societal structure deems those persons working for the wealthy as inferior. Powell also highlights the prejudicial focus not only on the immigrants’ country of origin but on their religion, as the non-Catholic residents of the time period seem to harbor an intense dislike of Catholics.
As the author magnifies the suspense throughout the narrative, her expert use of clues, such as the discovery that Deirdre was pregnant when she was murdered, adds motive to the intent of the murder. Powell’s ability to create an explosive plotline focused on solving a crime is evidenced in her inclusion of the tenor of the time and location to add authenticity to the narrative, quickly immersing readers into the sinister nature of this murder and building to a shocking conclusion.
Takeaway: 19th century murder mystery set among Irish immigrant life.
Comparable Titles: Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles’s Wild Irish Rose, Mary Logue’s The Streel.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A