Front Page Murder
In this World War II-era historical mystery series debut by Joyce St. Anthony, small-town editor Irene Ingram has a nose for news and an eye for clues.
Irene Ingram has written for her father’s newspaper, the Progress Herald, ever since she could grasp a pencil. Now she’s editor in chief, which doesn’t sit well with the men in the newsroom. But proving her journalistic bona fides is the least of Irene’s worries when crime reporter Moe Bauer, on the heels of a hot tip, turns up dead at the foot of his cellar stairs.
An accident? That’s what Police Chief Walt Turner thinks, and Irene is inclined to agree until she finds the note Moe discreetly left on her desk. He was on to a big story, he wrote. The robbery she’d assigned him to cover at Markowicz Hardware turned out to be something far more devious. A Jewish store owner in a small, provincial town, Sam Markowicz received a terrifying message from a stranger. Moe suspected that Sam is being threatened not only for who he is…but for what he knows.
Tenacious Irene senses there’s more to the Markowicz story, which she is all but certain led to Moe’s murder. When she’s not filling up column inches with the usual small-town fare—locals in uniform, victory gardens, and scrap drives—she and her best friend, scrappy secretary Peggy Reardon, search for clues. If they can find the killer, it’ll be a scoop to stop the presses. But if they can’t, Irene and Peggy may face an all-too-literal deadline.
Set in 1942, this entertaining series launch from St. Anthony (the Brewing Trouble mysteries) introduces Irene Ingram, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper in Progress, Pa., a job she took over from her father after he left for the Pacific to be a war correspondent. When beauty shop owner Ava Dempsey phones Irene to say Sam Markowicz's hardware store across the street has just been robbed, Irene sends reporter Moe Bauer to investigate. Irene later learns that the hardware store wasn't robbed, but someone did leave an anti-Semitic message for Sam, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, written on a piece of cardboard. When Moe fails to show up to interview either Ava or Sam, Irene goes to Moe's house, where she finds him dead at the foot of his cellar stairs. What appears to be an accident turns into a murder case. St. Anthony splendidly evokes the era through such details as the town's victory garden and Woolworth's lunch counter as she highlights the impact of the war on traditional women's roles. Fans of Jacqueline Winspear will want to see more of the talented and intelligent Irene.