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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kalorama Shakedown by Robert Bruce Stewart

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery

Setting: Washington, D.C., December 1901

First Sentence: Even before we left Brooklyn, I had an inkling we'd stumble on a corpse before the business was over.

Harry Reese and his wife Emmie make an unusual pair.  Harry is a detective employed by an insurance company.  His job is to expose fraudulent claims.  Emmie is an independent and free spirited woman.  She lends her own experience to Harries investigations.

Harry is a generally honest investigator who is not above bending the rules when needed.  Emmie may have a problem with gambling, and she occasionally cheats at cards.  Together they form a unique pair reminiscent of Nick and Nora Charles of "The Thin Man" movies of the past.

Harry and Emmie have arrived in Washington to investigate some jewelry thefts.  It seems that several wealthy families have had almost identical robberies.  After some snooping around, Harry soon realizes that the thefts are connected to a big dollar land deal.  His problem is to discover the evidence which proves his hunch.  Emmie also gets involved in the case.  Using her feminine wiles and nefarious connections she uncovers information which aides Harry's investigation.

Along the way, a young girl and her love of the "Wizard of Oz"play an important part to the solution of the mystery.

There are a few questionable deaths.  But they play a small part in the plot.

In the end Harry needs to find a way to uncover the fraud, to avoid embarrassing several highly placed families, and of course, to get his cut.

For me, this book was an easy, enjoyable read.  The author does rely on a lot of dialogue.  I found this to be tricky when I lost track of who said what.  Which necessitated a re-read of a page or two.  I liked Harry and Emmie.  They were fun characters to follow.  I liked them.  And I liked this novel.


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