The Secret Life of Anna Blanc
by Jennifer Kincheloe
Seventh Street Books, 2015, 367 pages, Mystery
It’s 1907, and Anna Blanc is tired of being a socialite, unable to pursue her dream of being the next Sherlock Holmes. She sneaks out of her Los Angeles mansion most days to work under an alias as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiance finds out, he'll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father's collapsing bank.
This book felt like the older sister of a book I reviewed a few months ago, These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. It could also be directly compared to the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. All in all, this was funnier than Donnelly’s book, although Anna is more of a mess, careening from one madcap scrape to another. Her privileged upbringing means that she constantly flaunts convention without weighing the costs of what she’s done. In general, Anna’s antics are funny and come from a place of kind-heartedness. This is a fun melding of the “Chick Lit” and Mystery genres.