Title: Second Street Station Series: Mary Handley Mystery #1 Author: Lawrence H. Levy Date of Publication: June 9, 2015 Publisher: Broadway Books Genre: mystery, historical fiction Pages: 336 Source: bought Rating: 4/5
A historical mystery featuring the witty and wily Mary Handley, the first woman detective in Brooklyn, as she tries to prove herself in a man’s world while solving a high profile murder.
Mary Handley is a not your typical late-nineteenth century lady. She’s fiery, clever, daring—and she’s not about to conform to the gender norms of the day. Not long after being fired from her job at the hat factory for insubordinate behavior, Mary finds herself at the murder scene of Charles Goodrich, the brother of a prominent alderman and former bookkeeper of Thomas Edison. When Mary proves her acumen as a sleuth, she is hired by the Brooklyn police department—as the city’s first female policewoman—to solve the crime. The top brass of the department expect her to fail, but Mary has other plans. As she delves into the mystery, she finds herself questioning the likes of J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. Mary soon discovers the key to solving the case goes well beyond finding a murderer and depends on her ability to unearth the machinations of the city’s most prominent and respected public figures, men who will go to great lengths to protect their secrets.
Much like Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and Maisie Dobbs, Second Street Station presents a portrait of a world plunging into modernity through the eyes of a clever female sleuth. Mary Handley is an unforgettable protagonist whose wit, humor, and charm will delight readers from the very first page.
The most interesting thing about historical fiction is when authors insert true historical figures with unpredictable personalities into historical fiction stories. While this story was a true murder mystery, it was also a book about a woman attempting to make her way in a man’s world.
I loved Mary so much!! She reminds me of a female Sherlock Holmes who has friends! That sounded kinda bad. Anyways, Mary is intelligent, spunky, and knows exactly how to use her femininity to get what she wants, but she does have an issue with keeping her mouth shut at times. Mary is logical and has a set idea of what she wants to achieve in her life. She wants to be the first female detective. Not only is this challenging for her, but it is not received well by the majority of her coworkers or many of the people of the era in general. While Mary has several moments of bad press, she never seems to completely lose her cool, which is quite admirable especially given some of the comments. She basically has all of the sass possible!
The only of her ‘side-kicks’ that really stood out was the Chief. I loved that he had a wife who was so similar to Mary and so she ended up being another part of their family. Charlie felt very helpful and I had such high hopes for him being the Watson to Mary’s Sherlock. The wrap-up I was also quite surprised at, but truly appreciated the originality.
Overall, four beans from me and I would recommend it for the historical fiction lover as well as a believer in women’s rights.