Title: An Untimely Frost (Lilly Long 1)
Author: Penny Richards
Publication Date: 2016
Since the age of eleven, Lilly Long has lived life on stage. Over the years, her skills as an actress have been honed with talents in disguise, speaking different languages, and sword-fighting; however, her skills for finding a suitable husband are lacking. In the four months she was married to Tim Warner, he took her innocence, her self-respect, and her confidence. When their confrontation eventually comes to blows, she quickly realizes that it is time to break off their relationship and seek out a fresh start. One that appeals to Lilly is helping other women avoid being taken advantage of, as she was.
In 1881, the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago has just begun to hire on young women. Although the famous Allan Pinkerton is open to female recruits, his sons William and Robert are less convinced of their effectiveness. Through four separate interviews, acting as four separate women, Lilly is able to surprise the agency with her spunk and adaptability, and she is hired on in a trial term as a detective. After a few weeks of training and research, Lilly is given her first assignment.
Sent to the small town of Vandalia, she is charged with finding the Reverend Harold Purcell, former owner of the estate called Heaven’s Gate. A new buyer is interested in the property but cannot purchased it until the previous owners are found. The Reverend and his family disappeared in the middle of the night from Heaven’s Gate after absconding with church funds. It is obvious that the townspeople have an intense dislike of the Reverend; however Lilly is surprise by the fear and histrionics that accompany the mention of his name.
When Lilly ventures out of town to the home site, she senses the unease of the abandoned site. After the Reverend’s departure, dark red stains were discovered in the house. Lilly is convinced that something very evil occurred there. There is also the uncomfortable feeling she has of being watched and followed. As she continues her detecting, she runs into more roadblocks and is even threatened. Why don’t the townspeople want to help her find the Reverend? And, what evil has cast such a shadow over the town? Lilly must solve the secrets or she is going to find her first assignment as a Pinkerton agent, her last.
I have always been fascinated with the Pinkerton Detective agency and its evolution into the modern day FBI. I particularly am interested in stories of how the Pinkerton Agency assisted during the Civil War. This fresh new series has a lot of potential to show a fictionalized account of a female Pinkerton Agent.
I enjoyed how the author provided a strong rationale for Lilly to become an agent, and particularly found her skills as an actress applicable for her to be successful. Little bits of her own personal history were presented, but there is definitely an opportunity for more depth and continued stories about her past.
Without giving too much away, another character is introduced in the story who will also continue to make an appearance in future adventures. I look forward to watching as they struggle between conflict and cooperation.
As a former resident of Illinois, I also enjoyed the references to different locations and landmarks.
Who might like this book:
A very pleasant start to a new series with a lot of potential. The next book in the series Though This Be Madness is set for release in May of 2017.