Anna Blanc is the daughter of a wealthy banker in Los Angeles. She cannot abide by the rigid rules of 1907 high society, and she bucks the system whenever she can. She hides crime novels in the covers of more appropriate reading, and she longs to live the life of a sleuth. When Anna sees an ad in the newspaper for a police matron position, she knows it is an opportunity she cannot pass up. But, first she has to get away from her horrendous chaperone. All it takes is a little bribe, and Anna finds herself downtown applying for, and getting the matron position – in disguise, of course. There, Anna learns that prostitutes are being killed, but that the police are ruling them suicides and not investigating. Anna resolves to do some detective work on her own and discover who is killing L.A.’s prostitutes. But doing so threatens to expose her identity, destroy her engagement, and face disownment by her father. To complicate matters, Anna is falling in love with a police officer from her station.
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc won the 2013 Colorado Gold contest in the mystery category, and as a mystery it is a fine book. However, Anna’s character often comes off as a spoiled, petulant child who toys with people for the fun of it, and that can be off-putting. The mystery-romance is, as a whole, a good story, and the look into parts of Los Angeles society in the early 1900s is interesting. For me, the focus on all the fashion got in the way of the story, but it is a fairly well-written book that has enough plot twists to hold your attention.
Review originally appeared https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-secret-life-of-anna-blanc/