A Dangerous Business

Recorded Books. Dec. 2022. 7:50 hrs. ISBN 9781980081326. $19.99. F
Smiley’s (Perestroika in Paris) feminist Western explores women’s friendships and bodily autonomy, with a light mystery woven throughout. During the Gold Rush in Monterey, CA, Eliza is relieved when her abusive husband is killed in a bar fight. She takes charge of her life by finding work at a brothel to support herself financially and befriends Jean, another sex worker who serves women instead of men. When young women are found murdered around town—all sex workers like Eliza and Jean—the townspeople and the sheriff seem unconcerned. Eliza and Jean are determined to prevent other women from meeting this unfortunate fate. Using Edgar Allan Poe’s detective Dupin as inspiration, the two start their own investigation, intent on tracking down the murderer. Thérèse Plummer provides strong narration with masterful characterizations, capturing the friends’ quick banter in this dialogue-heavy book.
VERDICT Will appeal to historical fiction readers who like a little mystery mixed in, and readers who enjoy women-led Westerns such as Anna North’s Outlawed.
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