Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Reads: The Girl is Murder

The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines. Historical mystery, set in 1942 combines a lot of great historical elements and a bit of mystery--with a lot of growing up, very real, true to history characters, and humility. Think Veronica Mars for the historical set.

It's the Fall of 1942 and Iris's world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop's cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There's certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business. 

First Line:
"September 1942.
Pop's leg was across the room when I came downstairs. I didn't ask him how it got there. Its location made it clear that the prosthetic had been hurled at some point, with enough force to bring down the photo of Mama that used to sit on the Philco radio."
You start with an unexpected scene, yet very normal in the life of Iris. If you're writing historical, pay close attention to this passage (and all passages in this and other historicals)--just look at these couple sentences and you'll see two things that paint it historical (besides the date)--to some degree, the prosthetic, and the Philco radio. Also, to some point, "Pop" and "Mama".

Brownie Points: I love how real Iris is. She is an entirely fallible character, but heart warming and every time she screws up--which is often--you want to sit down with her for some hot cocoa and talk about her problems. Too many times in historical, authors try to create a character who is ahead of her time. While it makes for controversial drama, it's not true to the time period. Iris is so deliciously 1942, as are each and every character--especially their Polish landlady who makes halupkies (best food ever!!! I grew up with halupkies--pigs in a blanket--which come from both sides of my family, both the German and Czech sides. Smothered in tomato sauce and sauerkraut... drool).

Recommendation: For mystery and/or historical lovers, this is a fantastic read. Or if you're a Veronica Mars/Nancy Drew fan, also a great rec. Like I said, Iris is a wonderful character, fallible and lovable, and the world is wonderfully built.

Would I represent it? I'd love to find a historical as rich as this one. With, like I said, true-to-the-time-period characters.

Happy reading!


Taryn said...

Ohhhhhhhh that sounds fantastic! Any chance it's coming to coffee? ;)

Jaime Morrow said...

This sounds great! I just added it to my TBR list. I love historical fiction, and I'm a Veronica Mars and Nancy Drew fan. Sold. :)

Joyce Tremel said...

It's a great book, and so are the ones in her adult Rosie Winters series. The next book in the Iris series will be released in July (

No, I'm not her publicist--just a friend!

Colin Smith said...

OK, I'm intrigued. Great review, Vickie--thanks! :)

Carrie-Anne said...

I'd love to read it, but I've been really disappointed at some of the YA historicals I've encountered lately. They seem more like history lite or Gossip Girl in period clothes. But I'd love to give this one a try, esp. since the 1940s are one of my favoritest eras to read and write about.