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Death at the Fair Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Frances definitely captured the essence of the time in her descriptions and in the language her characters used. Without this I think it would be hard to understand the plot as it unfolded. I did not find it slow going in the beginning. In fact I think the descriptions gave life and color to the time period and made it easy to understand why the characters acted as they did. I agree with one of the other reviewers about the main character, Emily Cabot. I am glad she was a 19th century character and not one from our action-packed 21st. My one criticism, albeit very minor, concerned the role Emily's mother played. I would have liked more of her in the story. There was the implication that she was fairly progressive in her views and it would have been interesting to have had her play a more active role.
I really enjoyed reading this novel and am definitely looking forward to the next one Frances writes.
Emily represents one of the first American women able to complete a college degree and do some postgraduate research. As spunky and fearless as she seems, she is constantly frustrated by the limits her society places on her, and the obstacles mounted against her by resentful male colleagues and members of the police. Emily's views supporting female suffrage are particularly suspect.
McNamara leads us on a colorful tour of the "White City," as the fair was called. Not ignored is its seamy side, the illegal traveling card games, police graft, midway toughs, and assassination of Chicago's mayor in the fair's final days. Reference is made to the Haymarket affair, the establishment's fear of "foreign anarchists," and the powerful Chicago political machine. Most interesting is the story's pivotal role given to the tireless crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Wells-Barnett was at the fair to promote her pamphlet protesting the fair's exclusion of blacks. Her exposé of the lynching of blacks in the South, and the uncovering of other repressive racial attitudes, are key plot points.
Author's Note offers books, helpful websites, and works consulted.
Discussion Group questions are included.
There were a few mechanical errors that detracted from the overall prose, but it is generally a well-written piece. I thought that the dialogue with Dr. Chapman went on a bit too long, again establishing back story, and I would have been preferred to be introduced later on.
This piece definitely has potential, but the pace needs to be increased if it is supposed to fall into the myster/suspense/thriller genre.
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