Cover image for
Title:
Girl waits with gun
Author(s):
Stewart, Amy.
ISBN/ISSN:
9780544409910 (hardcover)

0544409914 (hardcover)
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
408 pages ; 24 cm
Abstract:
Living in virtual isolation years after the revelation of a painful family secret, Constance Kopp is terrorized by a belligerent silk factory owner and fights back in ways outside the norm for early twentieth-century women.
Pub Date:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.
Holds:

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Adult Mystery Fiction Book STEWA
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Adult Mystery Fiction Book STEWA
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Summary

Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn't quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family -- and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. "A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness." -- Elizabeth Gilbert


Author Notes

AMY STEWART is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Kopp Sisters series, which began with Girl Waits with Gun . Her six nonfiction books include The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants . She and her husband own a bookstore called Eureka Books. She lives in Portland, Oregon. For book club resources, Skype chats, and more, visit www.amystewart.com/bookclubs.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hardened criminals are no match for pistol-packing spinster Constance Kopp and her redoubtable sisters in this hilarious and exciting period drama by bestseller Stewart (The Drunken Botanist). This is an elegant tale of suspense, mystery, and wry humor set in 1914 in Paterson, N.J. A crash between the Kopp sisters' horse and buggy and an automobile driven by arrogant factory owner Henry Kaufman begins a disturbing cycle of menacing behavior: Kaufman refuses to pay for the buggy damage, angry and humiliated in an embarrassing confrontation with a tall, imposing, and formidable woman. Intimidation and threats of violence follow Constance's every effort to make Kaufman pay, finally resulting in her appeal to the Bergen County Sheriff to help her collect. Sheriff Robert Heath has been itching to lock up Kaufman and his thuggish pals, and sees this as an excellent opportunity to rid Paterson of the pack of criminals. The Kopp sisters live alone on a remote farm and are taunted, burglarized, and shot at by crooks of the Black Hand gang as retaliation for involving the police and causing trouble for Kaufman. But when Constance starts to pack a revolver and doesn't hesitate to shoot back, the game changes drastically. A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In 1914, on a New Jersey farm, the three Kopp sisters the pugnacious-yet-attractive, six-foot-tall Constance; the flibbertigibbet youngest, Fleurette; and the droll pigeon-keeper, Norma defy convention by living alone after their mother dies. Self-sufficient and reclusive, Constance and Norma shelter themselves and their little sister from the world until a terrible incident forces them into the limelight. When silk baron Henry Kaufman rams and overturns their buggy with his motorcar, events conspire against the Kopp girls' continued independence. In fact, Kaufman's frightening threats and abuse of his workers put Constance on high alert: she keeps her sisters corralled indoors, fires shots at nighttime intruders, and works with the sheriff to personally bring down the merchant and his thugs. A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath. For fans of the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, and the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King.--Baker, Jen Copyright 2015 Booklist


Library Journal Review

In the summer of 1914 in rural New Jersey, the lives of Constance Kopp and her sisters take a dramatic turn. Their horse-drawn buggy is overturned in an accident with a motor car driven by local factory owner Henry Kaufman. Constance wants only an apology and the money owed to them for damages. Her determination in seeking justice puts her family in danger as the thuggish Kaufman begins a campaign of intimidation against them. Aided by the local sheriff, the Kopp sisters defend their home while Constance unravels a web of Kaufman family secrets and reckons with her own. In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen's "Molly Murphy" mysteries and Victoria Thompson's "Gaslight Mystery" series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/15; library marketing.]-Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. The Archduke of Austria had just been assassinated, the Mexicans were revolting, and absolutely nothing was happening at our house, which explains why all three of us were riding to Paterson on the most trivial of errands. Never had a larger committee been convened to make a decision about the purchase of mustard powder and the replacement of a claw hammer whose handle had split from age and misuse. Against my better judgment I allowed Fleurette to drive. Norma was reading to us from the newspaper as she always did. "'Man's Trousers Cause Death,' " Norma called out. "It doesn't say that." Fleurette snorted and turned around to get a look at the paper. The reins slid out of her hands. "It does," Norma said. "It says that a Teamster was in the habit of hanging his trousers over the gas jet at night but, being under the influence of liquor, didn't notice that the trousers smothered the flame." "Then he died of gas poisoning, not of trousers." "Well, the trousers --" The low, goosey cry of a horn interrupted Norma. I turned just in time to see a black motor car barreling toward us, tearing down Hamilton and picking up speed as it crossed the intersection. Fleurette jumped up on the footboard to wave the driver off. "Get down!" I shouted, but it was too late. The automobile hit us broadside, its brakes shrieking. The sound of our buggy shattering was like a firecracker going off in our ears. We tumbled over in a mess of splintered wood and bent metal. Our harness mare, Dolley, faltered and went down with us. She let out a high scream, the likes of which I had never heard from a horse. Something heavy pinned my shoulder. I reached around and found it was Norma's foot. "You're standing on me!" "I am not. I can't even see you," Norma said. Our wagon rocked back and forth as the motor car reversed its engine and broke free of the wreckage. I was trapped under the overturned rear seat. It was as dark as a coffin, but there was a dim shape below me that I believed to be Fleurette's arm. I didn't dare move for fear of crushing her. From the clamor around us, I gathered that someone was trying to rock the wagon and get it upright. "Don't!" I yelled. "My sister's under the wheel." If the wheel started to turn, she'd be caught up in it. A pair of arms the size of tree branches reached into the rubble and got hold of Norma. "Take your hands off me!" she shouted. "He's trying to get you out," I called. With a grunt, she accepted the man's help. Norma hated to be manhandled. Once she was free, I climbed out behind her. The man attached to the enormous arms wore an apron covered in blood. For one terrible second, I thought it was ours, then I realized he was a butcher at the meat counter across the street. He wasn't the only one who had come running out when the automobile hit us. We were surrounded by store clerks, locksmiths, grocers, delivery boys, shoppers -- in fact, most of the stores on Market Street had emptied, their occupants drawn to the spectacle we were now providing. Most of them watched from the sidewalk, but a sizable contingent surrounded the motor car, preventing its escape. The butcher and a couple of men from the print shop, their hands black with ink, helped us raise the wagon just enough to allow Fleurette to slide clear of the wheel. As we lifted the broken panels off her, Fleurette stared up at us with wild dark eyes. She wore a dress sheathed in pink taffeta. Against the dusty road she looked like a trampled bed of roses. "Don't move," I whispered, bending over her, but she got her arms underneath herself and sat up. "No, no, no," said one of the printers. "We'll call for a doctor." I looked up at the men standing in a circle around us. "She'll be fine," I said, sliding a hand over her ankle. "Go on." Some of those men looked a little too eager to help with the examination of Fleurette's legs. They shuffled off to help two livery drivers, who had disembarked from their own wagons to tend to our mare. They freed her from the harness and she struggled to stand. The poor creature groaned and tossed her head and blew steam from her nostrils. The drivers fed her something from their pockets and that seemed to settle her. I gave Fleurette's calf a squeeze. She howled and jerked away from me. "Is it broken?" she asked. I couldn't say. "Try to move it." She screwed her face into a knot, held her breath, and gingerly bent one leg and then the other. When she was finished she let her breath go all at once and looked up at me, panting. "That's good," I said. "Now move your ankles and your toes." We both looked down at her feet. She was wearing the most ridiculous white calfskin boots with pink ribbons for laces. "Are they all right?" she asked. I put my hand on her back to steady her. "Just try to move them. First your ankle." "I meant the boots." That's when I knew Fleurette would survive. I unlaced the boots and promised to look after them. A much larger crowd had gathered, and Fleurette wiggled her pale-stockinged toes for her new audience. "You'll have quite a bruise tomorrow, miss," said a lady behind us. The seat that had trapped me a few moments ago was resting on the ground. I helped Fleurette into it and took another look at her legs. Her stockings were torn and she was scratched and bruised, but not broken to bits as I'd feared. I offered my handkerchief to press against one long and shallow cut along her ankle, but she'd already lost interest in her own injuries. "Look at Norma," she whispered with a wicked little smile. My sister had planted herself directly in the path of the motor car to prevent the men from driving away. She did make a comical sight, a small but stocky figure in her split riding skirt of drab cotton. Norma had the broad Slavic face and thick nose of our father and our mother's sour disposition. Her mouth was set in a permanent frown and she looked on everyone with suspicion. She stared down the driver of the motor car with the kind of flat-footed resolve that came naturally to her in times of calamity. The automobilist was a short but solidly built young man who had an overfed look about him, hinting at a privileged life. He would have been handsome if not for an indolent and spoiled aspect about his eyes and the tough set of his mouth, which suggested he was accustomed to getting his way. His face was puffy and red from the heat, but also, I suspected, from a habit of putting away a quart of beer at breakfast and a bottle of wine at night. He was dressed exceedingly well, in striped linen trousers, a silk waistcoat with polished brass buttons, and a tie as red as the blood seeping through Fleurette's stockings. His companions tumbled out of the car and gathered around him as if standing guard. They wore the plain broadcloth suits of working men and carried themselves like rats who weren't accustomed to being spotted in the daylight. Each of them was unkempt and unshaven, and a few kept their hands in their pockets in a manner that suggested they might be reaching for their knives. I couldn't imagine where this gang of ruffians had been off to in such a hurry, but I was already beginning to regret that we had been the ones to get in their way. Excerpted from Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.