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by R.J. Koreto
Crooked Lane Books, April 2017
288 pages
ISBN: 1683311124

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In real life, Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, led an unconventional life. She was independent, headstrong and a rule-breaker. In other words, the perfect character for a work of fiction.

R.J. Koreto, in the first of a new series, uses Alice's independence to make her an amateur sleuth at the age of seventeen, aided by her Secret Service bodyguard, Joseph St. Clair, a former Rough Rider and the story's narrator. At thirty, he is older than Alice, but still young enough to turn the heads of young women, the president's daughter included.

The story opens after the assassination of President William McKinley (which led to Roosevelt's presidency). McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz, who had recently attended a speech by anarchist Emma Goldman. Alice, who lives with her aunt in Manhattan, is determined to investigate, first out of idle curiosity but later because she and St. Clair find themselves being followed, pushing her to believe there must be something—or someone—else behind the assassination. This leads them to all corners of New York—from the rarefied clubs of the city's biggest businessmen to the saloons of the Lower East side, where she meets with mobsters and anarchists. The whole time, she and St. Clair chase a shadowy man known only as "the Archangel."

The story is slow to start, but once it does, it is a gripping look at Manhattan, politics and big business at the turn of the century. Alice and St. Clair are engaging characters, and their back-and-forth banter adds much to the story. In real life, it is unlikely that Alice ever had a good-looking cowboy by her side—and that's a shame. But at least we can imagine what it would have been like, in this entertaining mystery.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, May 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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