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The Woman Who Did by Lou Allin
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432830571
Date: 10 June 2015 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Set at the close of the Nineteenth century in Victoria, British Columbia, The Woman Who Did by Lou Allin provides many snippets of Canadian history. After a series of assaults on several ladies of the night and the murder of one prostitute, the public clamors for an end to the crime spree. Little does Detective Sergeant Edwin DesRosiers know the search for the killer will put him in mortal danger.

Called by an officer on patrol, Edwin recognizes the murdered woman as a former model of his mother, an artist noted for portraits of nude women. She was also the one who inducted him into the mysteries of sex. He had idolized her and now stared in shock at her strangled corpse. Much better dressed than the common streetwalker, Vicky Crosse carried no purse or other identification.

When others try to link Vicky’s death to the assaults, Edwin disagrees and continues to find her old associates and learn why, after she had gone to San Francisco, she returned to Victoria. Her family knew nothing of her occupation or her friends.

While Satanism or devil worship is hinted at, they are not explored. Instead, more human and sordid motives prevail.

The author provides many snippets of local history including the tragic collapse of a suspension bridge, taking an overcrowded trolley car with it. While well done and interesting, they almost overpower the mystery. The narrative abruptly jumps in a few places, making it difficult for the reader to follow. Overall, Ms. Allin provided interesting characters and settings and an easy to read narrative with a tantalizing mystery.

Unfortunately, the author died in 2014, and so was unable to review the final proof. She also wrote two other Five Star mysteries: A Little Learning is a Murderous Thing (2005) and Man Corn Mysteries (2009).

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