Author: Abby Pen Baker
Book: In the Dead of Winter
Published: October 2015
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Faye Tullis is a young suffragette in 1918 and a student at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Arrested at a suffragette rally, she meets a tall imposing woman. This is her first meeting with Dr. Myrl Adler Norton, professor of logic at Smith College. Myrl has a keen eye and the ability to deduce personal information from the smallest details. When Faye’s friend’s flat is broken into, Faye and Myrl find that her landlady, Alyssa Dansen, is dead. What’s more, she has been dead for a long time. She has been stuffed like a big game animal.
Faye is swept along with Myrl as they try to find Alyssa’s killer. Their dark, dangerous trail leads them from Northampton, Massachusetts to Brattleboro, Vermont. They must unravel a tangled mystery of greed, passion, and violence.
Abby Pen Baker has set up a story that reads like the famous Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Myrl is much like the great detective, though her personal quirks are somewhat different. She is afraid of becoming addicted to various substance, such as caffeine. She also tends to run over people. Faye is cast in the role of Dr. Watson, chronicler and sounding board for the logical deductions of her mentor.
A female Holmes and Watson team set when female detectives were the exception is an intriguing one. Abbey Pen Baker does a passible imitation of the pen and dialogue of Arthur Conan Doyle. The mystery had many twists and turns that kept the audience guessing. The imperious characterization of Myrl seems to be a bit overdone and can at time detract of the other characters. That said, the fans of Sherlock Holmes will find the story intriguing.