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Fatal as a Fallen Woman
A Diana Spaulding Mystery #2

by Kathy Lynn Emerson

      After delighting historical crime readers with her chronicles of Elizabethan herbalist Lady Susannah Appleton, Ms Emerson has turned her attention to crime reporter Diana Spaulding. Following her adventures in the first in the series Deadlier Than The Pen, wedding bells would seem to be in the air. But when Diana's newspaper boss Horatio Foxe turns up at her boarding house to tell her that her mother has been arrested for murdering her father, the wedding just has to wait. Diana embarks upon a trail leading to the astonishing news that her mother was running a brothel in Denver, and also that her past life is not as past as she would like to think.

This is a faster paced story than the first in the series, with a lot more plot packed in and some flashes of welcome humor. Ms. Emerson is adept at sketching in details about life in places like Denver and Leadville, and gives a convincing picture of a time when the Wild West was just becoming tame, but every adult could remember when it was anything but. There is a feeling of real distance both in miles and everything else between the East and West here, which is what made the book come to life for me. I really like Susannah and enjoy reading about her resourcefulness and ability to rise to any occasion, but her descendent, Diana, suffers from being rather chilly. She has had a very hard life, but without warmth or humor she makes a rather distant protagonist. Ben seems more loveable when absent from his Addams Family ménage, and it is perhaps easier to see why Diana might want to marry him. I am left on closing the covers with vivid impressions of Colorado and my head is still spinning from such a splendidly tortuous plot (possibly Ms Emerson's most teasing one yet) but the characters remain in the background.

The Book

Pemberley Press
January 2006
Historical Crime [1888, Colorado]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006