GREEN GROW THE VICTIMS by Jeanne M. Dams (see her website)
A HILDA JOHANSSON MYSTERY
Walker & Company, 2001
When one candidate for county council is found murdered and the other candidate vanishes, the police are quick to draw the logical conclusion. Candidate Dan Murphy is the killer, now on the run to protect his life. Murphy's family cannot believe it and ask Swedish immigrant Hilda Johansson for help in finding Murphy and proving his innocence.
Hilda has developed a reputation as a woman who can find the truth when the police cannot, but now she faces a more serious challenge. Even when seeking her help, Murphy's family does not fully trust her. She is a Lutheran and they are Catholic. She has been seeing Patrick Cavanaugh (Murphy's nephew) and no good can come from that. As for Hilda's family, if they knew what she was doing, they would stop her instantly.
Set in South Bend, Indiana in 1902, GREEN GROW THE VICTIMS is an intriguing upstairs/downstairs story that combines mystery, adventure, and an understanding of human nature and prejudice. Although the mystery is simplistic, and the writing occasionally appears to target beginning readers, author Jeanne M. Dams makes the story compelling. Hilda's concerns are not just for herself and for solving the crime, but about keeping her job as a maid, whether to wear her best clothes to search for Murphy or to save them for Patrick (she saves them for Patrick), and whether she can keep the two dollars her boss gave her for expenses. It all adds up to a delightful slice of life at the turn of an earlier century in America.
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