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Louisa and the Missing Heiress
The First Louisa May Alcott Mystery
Anna Maclean

NAL Trade
June 7, 2011/ ISBN 0451233247
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks

Pre "Little Women" fame Louisa May Alcott takes on the role of a young sleuth. She shares the loss of a dear friend and how she was drawn to solving the case. Louisa goes back to the beginning of her "adventures" as a young woman playing the "lady detective". It's a daunting task but this spunky, optimistic protagonist shows no fear. Readers will find Louisa also has her share of admirers during this period. Throughout her accounts Louisa mentions her writings, her characters and the joy of writing. At one point when being followed Louisa mentally reminds herself to write the frightening experience down for future reference. Fans of Louisa May Alcott the writer will also enjoy the mentions of her family and her life at a young age.

In this mystery, Louisa's best friend is wealthy Dorothy Wortham. Dot hasn't been herself since her visit abroad. When her body is found in Boston's harbor it’s Louise and Dot's husband who identify the body. However, it's soon discovered she didn't drown. Even stranger is the lack of grief after Dot's death. Sisters look forward to spending her inheritance; a brother too busy with his own perversions; and a mother refuses to cover the mirrors or wear black. Louisa wonders if there was flaw in her friend's nature that she missed. What was it about her dear friend that would make someone want to murder her?

It was the author's ability to pull me in the era and give me the desire to follow the characters nonstop that kept me reading. That wasn't the case when I read the first part of the mystery. I thought this is for kids. Louisa's allowed to go in a morgue, watch an autopsy, and walk the street alone please. Kids would accept this, but not a grownup. Well, as I read on, I was quickly caught up in the era and the mystery itself. There are plenty of twists and turns. The writing is lovely and the historical descriptions acceptable. The mystery has a satisfying conclusion and the protagonist works her way into your heart. An impressive Historical Mystery.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011