Description:Pinkerton detective Jennifer Layne is no stranger to undercover work. But posing as a lady companion named Amy at Miss Lillian’s Parlor House and Boots is a first for her. She’s finally landed a high-profile case and is on the trail of the notorious Gunnysack Bandit, when one of Miss Lillian’s girls essential to her investigation meets an untimely demise. Only a handful of people are in the house at the time of her death, including handsome Tom Colton, a former Texas Ranger determined to clear his brother’s name. Amy has many reasons to suspect Tom of murder—and one very personal reason to hope that she’s wrong about him.
About the Author:
Bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than thirty novels. Her books have won numerous awards, including Readers’ Choice and Award of Excellence. She’s a former Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and has written for a TV soap. Happily married to her real-life hero, Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California.
www.margaretbrownley.com (Description, cover photo, and about the author copied from Christian Book. No infringement intended.)
My Review: 3 stars
It was okay.
Petticoat Detective is the first book in Margaret Brownley’s new Undercover Ladies series. I have really enjoyed Ms. Brownley’s previous books and was really looking forward to reading this one. I found that I enjoyed it, though not as much as some of her past books.
Margaret does an excellent job with the details and descriptions, and I could easily picture the characters and the town. The historical details were also great and I really enjoyed learning more about the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I did find the random details about the Pinkertons a smidge annoying once in a while. It almost seemed as though the author had found all of these interesting facts and felt compelled to throw as many of them into the story as possible, whether they fit or not.
Jennifer Layne is the heroine of this story, though we know her better as Amy, a lady of the night. She is in Kansas attempting to catch the notorious Gunnysack Bandit. I really liked Jennifer, though I didn’t connect with her very well. I appreciated her heart for the women she was living with and her desire to do the right thing not matter the costs. She has mistakes in her past that haunt her and she uses her job as a way to redeem them, I think. I liked seeing her character change and grow throughout the story, as she went from just doing her job, to finally understanding the ladies she lived with and forming real friendships with them.
Tom Colton is an interesting character and hero, though I wished we knew more about him. The book is mostly Jennifer’s story, though he does get a chance to share from his point of view every now and then. He is an ex-Texas Ranger turned rancher, looking to find the truth about his brother. He was a fairly flat character in my mind, which frustrated me at times. While Jennifer is fully rounded and we know her quite well, it seemed Tom was overlooked with everything that was going on. Also, for a Texas Ranger, he was a pretty poor detective, letting Jennifer do all of the work. I did enjoy their relationship. I liked that it slowly grew and changed throughout the story, making the romance very believable.
While I enjoyed the spiritual aspect and how involved it was, it also became very overwhelming at times. It seemed to weigh down the storyline until I was struggling to remember where we were with the mystery. I appreciate the important points Margaret was trying to get across, things like redemption, trust, God’s will, and a couple others, but I quickly became annoyed with it. I found myself skipping over parts of it, wanting to move on with the story. It overshadowed the storyline so much that I had a hard time following it.
I did enjoy the mystery and the fact that Margaret had me well and truly stumped. There were just too many suspects for me to guess correctly “whodunit.” I would never had figured out who it was, so that was very interesting for me. I also liked the humor that was mixed throughout and had me laughing aloud a few times.
Another thing that bothered me was the number of secondary characters. Margaret did her best to create a whole town for this book and I really appreciate her effort, but I found myself getting lost so many times. I couldn’t remember who everyone was or how they fit. I finally reached the point where I just didn’t care any longer. She did include a little reminder for most of them, but it was still very difficult for me to keep up. I wish there had been a few less characters, so that I could have known the more important ones better.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. The humor was fun, the mystery compelling, and the characters interesting. I would recommend it for someone looking for a historical mystery set in the Old West.
Please note, I was reading an advanced copy and my opinions are based on that. The final edition may be very different.
I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
I would like to say that I am truly sorry I didn't enjoy this book more. I do hope that it appears different in the final edition, because I believe many people will love it.
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