In 19th-century Manhattan, socialite Jo Monfort’s wealthy father meets an untimely death.
Seventeen-year-old Jo, like her literary namesake in Little Women, aspires to be a writer, but her itch to learn about the world outside her social class threatens her family’s expectation that she’ll marry Bram, the most eligible bachelor in New York. When Jo’s father is found dead of a gunshot wound in his study, it’s assumed to be an accident, but Jo wonders how her safety-conscious father could possibly have been cleaning a loaded gun. She overhears a rakish young reporter declare that her father’s partners in a shipbuilding firm paid hush money to keep the fact that it was murder out of the press. Jo won’t rest until she gets to the bottom of the story, despite the risk to her reputation. Melodrama and intrigue drive this fast-paced thriller with a Wharton-esque setting and a naïve young protagonist willing to be exposed to the shadier side of life—prostitutes, uncouth men, and abject poverty—on her way to solving a mystery and asserting her right to claim her future for herself. The author keeps the clues coming at a rate that allows readers to be one small step ahead of Jo as the story races to its surprising conclusion.
Readers who love costume dramas will relish this one. (Historical mystery. 13-17)