Booklist Review of Death at Hull House

Booklist has a nice review:

Death at Hull House.
McNamara, Frances (Author)
Dec 2009. 264 p. Allium, paperback, $14.99. (9780984067602).
In the late-nineteenth century, after Emily Cabot is expelled from the University of Chicago for actions
occurring while clearing a man unjustly accused of murder, she obtains a position at Hull House, assisting
Jane Addams in the operation of the famous settlement house for immigrants on the West Side of Chicago.
Soon after she moves in, a man who had come to see her is found bludgeoned to death. Concerned that her
younger brother may be involved, Emily launches her own investigation. Meanwhile, her brother,
convinced that the man who murdered their father has fled to Chicago, does some sleuthing of his own.
Details concerning the operation and the people of Hull House, along with an overview of the deplorable
living conditions faced by immigrants (and the lack of concern for the poor expressed by the city’s
businessmen and politicians) give this novel a rich historical framework, made all the more poignant by
the portrayal of the smallpox epidemic of 1893. McNamara’s historical mystery will appeal to those who
enjoyed Ann Stamos’ Bitter Tide (2009), about the immigrant experience in New York City.
— Sue O’Brien


Kirkus Discoveries Review

Kirkus Discoveries has published the following review:

A compelling tale of the Chicago World’s Fair, complete with history, mystery and a likable heroine.

Against the backdrop of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, McNamara deftly weaves themes of Southern honor, Northern political graft, post-Civil War abolitionist concerns, nascent women’s suffrage and tangled familial relationships.  Emily Cabot, a graduate student of solciology at the University of Chicago, and her Boston-based family visit the Fair accompanied by her professor, Dr. Chapman.  A chance meeting with Emily’s classmate Clara, and her family and friends from Kentucky, reveals Dr. Chapman’s past romantic involvement with a Mrs. Larrimer, now the wife of a powerful Southern cotton dealer.  When Mr. Larrimer is killed, all evidence points to Dr. Chapman–or does it?  Emily’s conviction in his innocence leads to detective work ranging from high tea in frills to finagling audiences with members of the powerful Chicago political machine and finally to donning boy’s clothing and spying on a covert gambling session on the Midway.  In addition to solid pacing and engaging storytelling, teh polot incorporates historical figures like Frederick Douglass, Mayor Carter Harrison and Eugene Prendergast, nicely balancing historical exposition with narrative drive.  Racial relations under Reconstruction come alive as Emily discovers the secret in Larrimer’s past and requests the help of Ida B. Wells and her editor husband F.L. Barnett.  Emily’s own precarious position as a female graduate student involved in a scandal results in an examination of social mores and gender double standards…With and eye to her readership, McNamara includes a historical epilogue, bibliography and reding group discussion questions, as well as the first ten pages of the next Emily Cabot book DEATH AT HULL HOUSE

An energetic story of politics, racism and murder set against the whilr of the White City

Publisher’s Weekly Review

DEATH AT THE FAIR was submitted to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in Fall of 2007.  As a semi-finalist, a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer provided a review:

As in THE DEVIL INTHE WHITE CITY, this yarn takes place in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair, and like in that nonfiction bestseller, murder intrudes on the city’s cultural uplift with surprising consequences. Emily Cabot, one of the first female graduate students at the University of Chicago, invites her mother and brother to join her in the city to attend the fair along with her teacher Dr. Stephen Chapman.  At the fair, Chapman turnspale as a ghost when he tuns into a woman who turns out to be an old flame. When her hustand is killed, and Chapman is found by the body, it is up to Emily and a rotating cast of advisors-some recognizable from your history texts, some not–to free him. The novel is well-written and without major flaws ..

The positive review was one of the reasons I went ahead to do the BookSurge publication of the book.  Especially since I have two more sequels in draft!!