Review: An Untimely Frost by Penny Richards. Kensington Books

An Untimely Frost is a well-written story of a courageous and unconventional woman character in 1881 Chicago. Lilly Long is haunted by the tragic history of her mother, murdered when Lilly was just 11 years old. Raised by a kindly couple who become surrogate parents, Lilly’s life has progressed well–until now. She has made a career for herself as a Shakespearean actress, and was married just four months ago to–she thought–the man of her dreams.

But the dream turns out to be more of a nightmare; her new husband robbed her of all her savings and then deserted her. Heartbroken, Lilly decides on a challenging new direction. Using her considerable acting skills and steely determination, she succeeds in being hired as a Pinkerton agent, and after a short training period she is sent on her first assignment.

As is often the case in such tales the assignment seems simple enough–locate the owners of a deserted house named Heaven’s Gate, owned by a pastor who has apparently disappeared, leaving stories of treachery and deceit in his wake. Going to the town of Vandalia, Lilly starts on her course of discovery. But she finds that people in the town are reluctant to discuss the disgraced minister and his family. Visits to the ghostly, deserted Heaven’s Gate yield few clues. Lilly is about to report back to the Pinkerton agency that she has been unsuccessful in her quest. But just on the brink of leaving, things start to change, and Lilly finds clues that lead her on, to a startling conclusion that nearly costs her life.

This is a book that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and admirers of resourceful female protagonists.

My thanks to the publishers for making this advance copy available for me to read and review.

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