In For You Were Strangers, D. M. Pirrone continues the budding romance of Chicago Police Detective Frank Hanley and Rivka Kelmansky started in Shall We Not Revenge. This time Hanley is investigating the suspicious death of Ben Champion, a Civil War officer, whose death may have ties to a secret uprising during the Civil War in Chicago. Rivka’s long-lost brother returns to her house with his African-American wife and her son after they were burned out of their home. When Rivka turns to Hanley for help in protecting her brother, little do they know that both cases are intertwined and connect to the infamous Northwest Confederacy conspiracy. The more Hanley uncovers in the cases, the closer he and Rivka become to one another.
The story is told through two narratives: Hanley and Rivka in post-fire 1872 Chicago, and the life of Dorrie Whittier in the late Civil War and early Reconstruction years. Both the sweltering, rebuilding city of Chicago and the ruined South are described in a rich tapestry that captures the time and mood of their people. Pirrone’s writing is as detailed and crisp as her research into the people, vice, and lingering racism of Chicago. While it is not difficult to surmise Ben’s killer, the intrigue with which Pirrone surrounds the murder is well-crafted. For fans of Chicago history this is one not to miss, but the story will also hold the attention of anyone looking for a little mystery with their history.
Review originally appeared in HNR May 2016: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/for-you-were-strangers-a-hanley-rivka-mystery/