I am not a fan of historical fiction but I have come to deeply respect Camden and the novels she writes. I was not disappointed in this novel, a well crafted one woven around actual historical events.
Romulus White is the editor and publisher of Scientific World, the most prestigious science magazine in the country. He has been following the work of Stella West, and excellent artist and illustrator. He planned to combine her ability and the latest developments in lithography to create a premiere magazine with full-color illustrations.
Stella has come to Boston to find out who killed her sister. Her sister had identified graft through her job at the Boston Transit Commission. Stella was sure the supposed accidental drowning was, in fact, a murder to prevent the truth from being made public. As Romulus tries to entice Stella to work for him, she plows forward in her investigation. She finally irritates the wrong people and her life is in danger.
I love learning from historical novels and this time it is about creating the subway for Boston. While a few European cities had subways, they were steam powered. The Boston subway would be the first electrical one. Camden tells us in her Note that there really was an explosion during the construction (as in the novel). While the project was delayed, it opened in 1897, seven years before the subway in New York City.
I also learned about stenography, the training and how the stenographic machines worked. I learned about different fonts used in printing and about the relatively new use of photography in police work. I also learned about the world of science magazine publishing in the late nineteenth century. Magazines about scientific discoveries are common now but were on the cutting edge then. The articles had to be approved by scientific experts to make sure they were accurate.
Camden has done an amazing amount of research to provide readers an entertaining novel woven through with historical knowledge. There is suspense and a hint of romance too. This book contains everything I demand in a rewarding historical novel.
My rating: 5/5 stars.
Elizabeth Camden is the author of eight historical novels and two historical novellas. She has been honored with both the RITA and Christy Awards. With master's degrees in history and library science, she is a research librarian by day and writer by night. She and her husband live in Florida. You can find out more at www.elizabethcamden.com.
Bethany House, 352 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.