Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: The Strange Case of Fremont Jones

Welcome to the first Cozy Crime time review! The paramount book on the chopping block is The Strange Files of Fremont Jones by Dianne Day.
Giant Dragon Ball Lamp: Conversation piece and potent symbol for your living room
Genre: Historical, romantical  
POV: First person  
Detective: (Caroline) Fremont Jones - Typewriter, small business woman and knife-cane owner
Setting: Turn-of-the-century San Francisco
Fusspot Inner Great Aunt Sexy Times Alarm: Raised eyebrows (two) and tsking 
(Caroline) Fremont Jones is a sensible young woman. So when her father decides to remarry an insipid lady who thinks that cucumber sandwhiches are the height of fashion and has some very strange ideas about marrying Fremont off to her nephew, she does the only sensible thing. She heads west and forges a new life in San Fransisco sans gibbering nephew.

She opens a typewriting shop and soon has a host of interesting clients. There's Justin Cameron, the charming lawyer whose smile melts her heart. The troubled young writer who drops off a manuscript of deeply disturbing stories in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe which he swears are true and then disappears. Li Wong, the elderly tong leader, who is murdered days after dictating a will in her shop. And finally, there is Michael Archer who may or may not be a Russian spy.
Typewriting: More exciting than you might think
Soon Fremont is embroiled in murder, kidnapping and missing wills. One of her customers holds the key to a fortune and the other to a terrible secret.

I would recommend The Strange Files of Fremont Jones to: Anyone who enjoys historical mysteries with strong-willed heroines with a little sexy times. Readers who thought that Edgar Allen Poe needed more demon frogs.

I would not recommend this book to: Readers who are not fans of the first person POV. Even though the book is from Fremont's POV, I had a hard time following her decisions or feelings. It sometimes felt like following a scavenger hunt of clues through someone's brain who didn't really want you to find the treasure and instead wanted to send you to the shop to get them some bread. There's also a fair bit of purple prose (especially during the sexy times) and some eye-rolling stupidity on the part of the heroine.

If you like Fremont Jones: The Arcane series by Amanda Quick. Sassy heroines, dark secrets and making out in greenhouses.

The perfect tea to read while walking the foggy streets of San Fransisco with Fremont: In one of the book's most thrilling scenes, Fremont ventures into Chinatown to meet the wife of the tong leader, Li Wong. There's some wonderful historical detail about the Chinese in early California and some delicious tea.

Lapsang Souchong is the first tea is recorded history. This musky, smoky tea hails from the Fuijian Province in China. It is roasted over pinewood smoke which gives the tea its distinctly woody flavour. It tastes like a woodsman's boot. But a delicious woodsman's boot.

The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver (a must-see if you're even in Vancouver. The owner is a tea wizard who also demonstrates traditional tea ceremonies in the shop) stocks an amazing variety of Lapsang Souchong teas that will put your right in Fremont's shoes.

Final Grade: 6.5/10

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