Review of Devil by the Tail by Jeanne Matthews – just out

Crime and mayhem in post-Civil-War Chicago…

I have read and enjoyed most (all?) of the books in Jeanne Matthews’ Dinah Pelerin series, but haven’t seen a new title in that series for several years.   So I was a little surprised to see that Matthews had a brand-new book in a brand-new series coming out in July, 2021.   I was fortunate enough to be granted an advance review copy of Devil by the Tail, and I liked it a lot. 

Matthews starts her new series with an interesting premise:  what happens when a Union widow and an ex-Confederate soldier start a detective agency together in Chicago, just after the war?   She then adds in some uncooperative former in-laws for the widow; a couple of odd-ball cases that may or may not be related, but almost certainly won’t pay very much; and a little (actually, more than a little) corruption among the city’s powerful elite.  The result is a thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery.  Having myself been an engineer in a time when there weren’t many female engineers, I especially liked watching the widow, Quinn Sinclair, work to establish herself and her business in another field that wasn’t all that friendly to women, even though she was a graduate of the Pinkerton Detective Agency.   Finally, there’s also a bit of female-male tension between Quinn, who uses the name “Mrs. Paschal” professionally, and her partner, Garnick, to liven things up. 

One small disclosure:  I’m always a bit biased towards historical mysteries, especially when they are in a time or place that is new to me, and post-Civil-War Chicago, with all its energy, and all its flaws, was certainly a new setting for me.    But even without my natural bias, I found Devil by the Tail to be a well-written mystery with engaging characters, and I hope there are more books to come in the series.   I tend to be quite sparing with five-star reviews, so for me, a four-star review is a solid “read” recommendation, and that’s what Devil by the Tail gets.  And my thanks to publisher DX Varos, and to NetGalley, for the review copy. 

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