A female sleuth makes her mark on 19th-century Spokane.
China Bohannon, heroine of Crigger’s numerically titled historicals (Four Furlongs, 2016, etc.), is not a woman to be trifled with. With a Smith & Wesson daintily concealed beneath her skirt, she shows no reluctance to defend the clients of Doyle & Howe Detective Agency, founded by her uncle Montgomery "Monk" Howe and his handsome partner, Gratton Doyle, against the bad guys who are legion in this lawless frontier town. So when Monk and Grat are out of the office, she willingly accepts a commission from saloon owner Sepp Amsel to find out who kidnapped Anka Kalb, the sister of his mail-order bride, Jutte. China, with her Bedlington terrier, Nimble, at her heels, doesn’t shrink from helping Sepp fulfill the baddies’ ransom request. Nor does she waver as the bodies start to fall: first a young bellhop at the Majestic Hotel, then a tailor at Mannheim’s Haberdashery. The trouble is that in order to fulfill the promise of her title, Crigger has to keep producing characters to knock off until she reaches the requisite five, spinning out increasingly elaborate and illogical plot complications. Plucky China, adorable Nimble, and scenic Spokane can’t quite compensate for a puzzle that makes no sense.
If Crigger, like Janet Evanovich, aims to do for the numbers what Sue Grafton did for the alphabet, she’ll need to bump her plotting up a notch or her next entry is likely to wind up six feet under.