Thursday, June 28, 2012

Did you drove or did you flew?

The Strange Files of Fremont Jones by Dianne Day (1995): Breezy mystery set in San Francisco circa 1905. Fremont Jones is a suffragette who leaves her wealthy family in order to experience personal freedom on the other side of the States. She sets up shop as a freelance typewriter. She types letters, documents, poetry, memoirs, and short stories for people who cannot type themselves.
Day started her career as a romance novelist, and this shows through in a couple of sequences, especially a somewhat hilarious sex scene in which Jones loses her virginity. Not content with having her character solve one mystery, Day has her solve three over the course of the novel. It's such an oddity of structure that I wonder if the novel started life as three short stories.

The best of the three involves a young writer who has Jones transcribe his three creepy short stories. The writer claims the stories are true, and when he disappears, Jones sets out to locate the sources of the stories. She also gets involved in a Chinese tong war, an attendant mystery involving her boyfriend, the mystery of her missing landlady, and the mystery of her mysterious downstairs neighbour. Is that four mysteries? I enjoyed the story, though some anachronisms creep in from time to time. Lightly recommended.

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