It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father's collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief's son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail. Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The 1907 Los Angeles setting of this ambitious debut novel holds great potential, which, unfortunately, Kincheloe doesn't achieve. Anna Blanc, the daughter of a widowed bank president, is pampered and spoiled, but also repressed and frustrated in her desire to break free and experience life. When her elopement is thwarted, she takes a job as a police matron. Dissatisfied with her office duties, Anna decides to go undercover, acting as a self-appointed detective, attempting to unravel a series of prostitute murders, which higher-ups in the LAPD insist are either suicides or accidental deaths. Along the way, she gets into a number of entanglements that descend from adventure to parody and, ultimately, farce. Kinchloe has a knack for creating vivid and effective scenes, but the book's lack of a single likable or admirable character, including Anna herself, is a handicap.