Author: Jennifer Kincheloe
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Length: 10 hours 52 minutes
Series: Anna Blanc Mysteries, Book 2
Released: Dec. 6, 2017
Publisher: Jennifer Kincheloe
Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery
Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. Her lover has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. So does good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese leader who has mixed feelings about helping the LAPD and about Anna.
Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fuelling existing tensions. They are poised on the verge of a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger.
Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family’s sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.
Jennifer has been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. A native of Southern California, she now lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers. She’s currently writing book three in the Anna Blanc Mystery series. Book two, THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK, is coming out in Fall of 2017 from Seventh Street Books.
Moira grew up in teeny-tiny Rutland, England’s smallest county, which is fitting as she never managed to make it past five feet herself. Moira’s work spans the pantheon of the voiceover world: plays for BBC radio, plays for NPR, video games, commercials, television promos, podcasts, cartoons, movies and award winning audiobooks. She’s won Multiple Audie Awards, Earphone Awards, as well as Audible’s prestigious Book-of-the-Year Award. She has lately set foot in front of the camera again, appearing in “Pretty: the Series” and the Emmy-winning “Dirty Work.”
Having just finished listening to The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, I jumped straight into The Woman in the Camphor Truck with glee. Anna Blanc just has that effect on me – she annoys me with her drivel at times, but there’s no escaping the fact that she is entertaining.
Picking up from book one, Anna is now established as the police matron – under her own name now – but, having been disowned by her father, she is living in rented accommodation and surviving on crackerjacks and kippers. Oh, how the mighty socialite has fallen. Anna’s fall from high Society, however, hasn’t put her off her police work. If anything, she is more determined than ever, and she’s still fighting the tide in that whatever she does well is rarely credited to her efforts. Yet, on she goes …
The story starts with Anna running away from a police officer with the head of a Chinese man and taking it home with her…luckily, she has read up on how to mask the smell until she can speak to Joe Singer, the detective she loves but refuses to marry.
It’s off to Chinatown next, to find the body that goes with the head and to determine what has happened to cause the man’s decapitation. Naturally, it doesn’t go smoothly, especially when she and Joe find a woman stuffed in a trunk – a woman who was a very good friend of hers in the past. Keeping the woman’s death a secret is imperative, as if it were to be discovered that a white woman, a missionary to boot, had been killed in Chinatown, then the repercussions would be immense for the Chinese community. Tensions are already high as a result of two slave girls being kidnapped, so treading carefully is a must. Joe attempts to keep Anna away from Chinatown, even going as far as to order to her stay away. Of course, he’s wasting his breath as usual.
During this investigation, Anna learns of Joe’s intention to marry another woman, and she struggles to hide her jealousy and maintain her insistence that she will not marry and give up her new-found independence. Their relationship is further tested when the two of them head to the woods to find the killer of the woman in the trunk, Elisabeth. It’s clear these two are meant to be together but nothing about what happens there is straightforward, other than in convincing Anna of her feelings for Joe.
To be honest, Anna hasn’t really changed very much since book one. She is still immature and petulant. Her detective work does, however, show her in a positive light, and her efforts do pay off …eventually. She still has a tendency to suspect everyone, and so needs to eliminate them throughout the story, and her thought process is somewhat random as well as hugely entertaining.
I really hoped the romance between Joe and Anna would develop more in this book, but it did seem as though the story relied upon them being opponents in love for the most part. Maybe book three is where it all comes full circle … we shall see.
This is a great mystery, quite convoluted at times, and rather chaotic, but I imagine anything involving Anna would be unconventional. The story is funny, sad, poignant and sometimes quite shocking. Using Chinatown as a setting allows for a very original mystery, which has its foundation in real events.
Looking forward to the third book in the series. As I said at the start, despite her foibles, Anna is definitely interesting and not someone to forget.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jennifer Kincheloe. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card
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