Friday, April 9, 2010

Miss Fortune by Sara Mills

book cover

Miss Fortune
by Sara Mills

Trade Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
First Released: 2008

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description (slightly modified):
It's 1947 and Allie Fortune is the only female (and probably the best) private investigator in New York City. But she's kept awake at night by a mystery of her own--her boyfriend disappeared in the war. Allie is haunted by not knowing what happened to him but also fears finding out the worst.

Her work is a welcome distraction, and she's just been hired by a client who isn't telling the whole truth. Mary Gordon's claims of innocence don't fit with her ransacked apartment, being shot at, and the two Soviet agents hot on her trail.

Meanwhile the FBI is working the case because a legendary and mysterious treasure has gone missing...again. The only catch for Allie is her new "partner" Jack, an attractive, single agent who knows how to make her smile.

As Allie and Jack chase after the gold, they must contend with the Soviets who also want the priceless treasure back--after all, they stole it fair and square.

Miss Fortune is an enjoyable historical mystery/suspense novel set in 1947 in New York City. It was fast-paced and had a clever mystery that kept me guessing until the end. In general, the world-building was very good and the historical detail was nicely mixed into the action. The characters were fun and interesting though they didn't quite strike me as realistic. Also, one of Allie's (and Jack's) actions at the end didn't make a lot of sense and was never really explained. It seemed done solely so the bad guy could explain everything he'd done. It was a funny scene, though.

About a third of the book was flash-backs to how she met her now-missing boyfriend and showed why she's so attached to him. Despite this background, I was a little irritated by Allie's inability to love anyone except her missing boyfriend--though her feeling of guilt did make it somewhat more realistic.

There was a major historical mistake that was critical to the story (though I doubt most readers will care). Allie was in a car that crashed at high speed, and she should have died...except she had a seat belt on. But seat belts weren't invented yet.

Most of the novel had no religious content. Allie rejected God because He let her boyfriend disappear from her life. However, after encountering a Christian woman who'd just lost her son to murder, Allie started thinking about praying again and about what the woman had (briefly) said about God. I'm not sure if non-Christians would be bothered by this content or not.

There was no sex, and I don't recall any bad language. The mystery was a good one and I'd recommend this novel as enjoyable, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
August 8, 1947

Two thirty in the morning and it was sweltering. The whole city was wrapped in a greyish blanket of twilight and haze. The windows in my apartment were open, but there was no breeze, not even a stir of air to ease the heat.

I should've been sleeping, working out in dreams what troubled my soul. Instead I sat curled into the windowsill of my apartment, staring down at the streetlight, waiting for daybreak. And the stillness made me crazy.

Twelve blocks away, lying on the desk in my second-story office, was a file that could change my life, and it terrified me.

Maybe I should have burned it when it arrived in the mail. Maybe if I'd just touched match to paper, I could have slept tonight.

Maybe, but I doubt it.

Instead, I was wide awake and had to know.

Breaking the stillness, I rose. It took only a moment to dress and get ready for the day. No need to fix my long hair; like so many other nights, my head never touched the pillow. I buttoned the last buttons on the wasp-waisted suit jacket, smoothed down the matching grey skirt, and grabbed my black felt hat from the hall table. I positioned it at an angle and jammed the hat pin through to anchor it, then took a quick peek in the mirror. Dark circles under my eyes notwithstanding, I looked all right. No different than most of the women in this city, but in my line of work I knew exactly how deceptive appearances could be. I walked out the door, closing it with a soft click.

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