CITY OF SCOUNDRELS by Victoria Thompson


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A determined woman seeks justice.

Elizabeth Miles had a disreputable past as a grifter, but a chance friendship with Mrs. Bates, a suffragette, introduced her into New York society, and now she’s engaged to her friend's son, Gideon Bates, a straight-arrow lawyer. While Gideon is waiting to be called up to serve in the Great War, Cpl. Thomas Preston asks him to draft a new will leaving Thomas’ money and his one-third share in Preston Shoe Manufacturing to his pregnant new wife, Rose O’Dell, instead of his older brother, Fred, who currently shares ownership of the company with Thomas and Delia, their young, widowed stepmother. Since Rose is not the sort the Preston family would approve of, Gideon writes the will in secret, naming himself executor, and Thomas leaves it with Rose. All too soon thereafter, an angry Fred Preston barges into Gideon’s office saying that his brother is dead and his brother's widow claims to be the heir. Refusing to reveal his client’s business, Gideon visits Rose’s apartment, where he runs into the bruiser who attempted to strangle her and stole the only signed copy of the will. It’s clear that neither Fred nor his stepmother will help Rose, whom Elizabeth moves to her aunt’s house, where she and several other progressive women live, knowing that she’ll be safe. When neither threats of court cases nor attempts to shame Fred work, Elizabeth turns to her brother and father, the Old Man, and their talented group of con men (City of Secrets, 2018, etc.) to find a way to raise money for Rose and the coming child. Disapproving of war profiteers and men who hurt women, the group comes up with a clever plan that will make Rose rich and pay them something for their efforts. They stumble into the American Protective League, a nest of German spies, and a still more dangerous enemy in the Spanish flu, which will kill vast numbers all over the globe.

An amusingly complex con combines with little-known historical details to provide an enchanting read.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-9848-0565-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2019


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