March 1894 finds the nation’s capital anxiously anticipating the arrival of Coxey’s Army.
Hundreds of unemployed men have marched from Ohio and even farther away to demand that Congress pass a bill that would create government jobs to help the suffering masses. But the Washington establishment is largely unwilling to listen. Hattie Davish, secretary to renowned historian Sir Arthur Windom-Greene, is staying with her employer in the home of Senator and Mrs. Smith while doing research on the Civil War. On the way to the train station to meet the love of her life, Dr. Walter Grice, Hattie, passing through a street of brothels, sees a young woman sunning herself on a balcony. After accepting Walter’s proposal of marriage, she sees the same young woman removed from the store where Hattie’s shopping for her trousseau. Her last sighting is when the woman is thrown from a carriage into a carp pond and drowns while the driver flees the scene. While trying to hear Coxey give his speech at the Capitol grounds, Hattie’s beaten by the police and arrested for the murder of Jasper Neely, a member of Coxey’s Army who’d helped her search the carp pond. The police, aware of her reputation (A Deceptive Homecoming, 2015, etc.), release her and warn her against sleuthing, but Hattie’s already picked up too much information from Washington bigwigs to ignore the two murders. Sen. Smith, his nasty spoiled son, and even her prospective brother-in-law are just a few of the people Hattie suspects as she attempts to solve the crimes and keep her personal life from spinning out of control.
The weak mystery is offset by fascinating period detail and some illegal, immoral, and just plain outrageous political shenanigans.