Imagine if the Civil War didn’t end through military strategy but because both sides had to work together to fight a plague of zombies. Then many years later a system has taken hold in which African American and Native American young girls are taken from their homes and trained to be “attendants” to society ladies, defending them from the undead and generally ensuring their safety. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, of course, and Jane McKeene is about to find out just how much goes wrong when she runs afoul of her school’s administrators and the mayor of Baltimore where the school is located. While the author plays a little fast and loose with some historical dates, she captures the general atmosphere of the time and especially the unfortunate treatment of minorities. Jane is an excellent character, and I look forward to reading about her next challenges in the upcoming sequel. Fulfills Litsy Booked2019 prompt: POC MC paranormal. Read 21 June-3 July.
38. The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber
This book came out in January, and I don’t even remember now how I heard about it, but it’s definitely “flying under the radar” and deserves more recognition. In 1888 Utah a handful of families live together in a remote settlement, at once part of the Mormon Church and trying to remain outside some of the constraints and practices of the larger community. Rebecca, the glove maker of the title, is a 37-year-old woman whose husband is overdue returning from his annual work trip, and then a stranger comes to town whose arrival brings an impending tragedy with him and upsets their somewhat fragile existence. As the situation unfolds, Rebecca and Nels, her husband’s best friend, have to face hard decisions about their faith and their consciences, as well as the town’s future. Spare and restrained writing, empathetic characters, and interesting history about smoldering animosity between the government and the Mormon Church. Read 4-6 July.
39. Hunting a Detroit Tiger by Troy Soos
This is another series I started several years ago and petered out when I couldn’t find the later books in my local library, but in the meantime I’ve figured out how to leverage the branches of neighboring counties. An itinerant ballplayer in the 1910s and ‘20s keeps getting embroiled in murder and mayhem. A little “Murder, She Wrote” meets “Eight Men Out.” In this installment he’s playing for the Detroit Tigers and inadvertently finds himself embroiled in labor politics, as the “Wobblies” are looking to unionize ballplayers alongside other workers. This story relies on historical atmosphere and a likeable protagonist to counter a somewhat facile mystery. There’s also a possible continuity error from earlier in the series. Read 11 June-9 July.