I don’t often pick up a book just because of its cover, but I did for Sara Mill’s novel Miss Fortune. To me, the cover shouted post-war era mystery. I was intrigued. I ended up reading most of the novel aloud to my husband while we drove to southern Alberta and back. (Maybe he liked the cover too.) Sarah created enough suspense at the end of the book that I read aloud non-stop for about two hours and nearly went hoarse.
Allie Fortune is a PI with a personal agenda: find David Rubeneski. As her story progresses, flashbacks fill in the details of her relationship with David and the reason she’s desperate to find him.
Allie is searching for clues about David when Mary Gordon shows up on her doorstep with a strange story. Although she’s dubious about Mary’s story, Allie agrees to help her for a few days. Then FBI agent Jack O’Connor reveals that Mary has lied to Allie, and Allie happily terminates their relationship. Until Jack offers Allie a chance to find out what happened to David—in exchange for tracking down Mary and the treasure that she and her husband stole from a museum in Berlin at the end of the war.
Her love for David keeps Allie from falling for Jack as they begin working together. But when the only man who has any clues is murdered, the stakes get higher. The Soviets and East Germans are also after the treasure. While the Soviet/East German/FBI plot may seem a bit clichéd, it fits with the post-war era mystery genre.
In an interview with Novel Rocket, Mills talks about the process of writing Miss Fortune: “That winter I wrote a first-person detective novel and felt like I’d finally found my sweet spot. The combination of first-person style and mystery just clicked in me.” Allie’s voice brings the novel alive, giving the reader a good sense of her gutsy personality. While some of Allie’s deductive skills echo those of Sherlock Holmes, this novel needs no comparison to other mysteries.
Some readers may not like the faith elements of the story, which seem tacked into the book to make it fit the Christian fiction market. The story wouldn’t have changed if Allie’s brief doubts about God and later “conversion” were removed.
Sara Mills is the mother of three children and lives in Alberta. According to Novel Rocket, she “collects swords, raises Golden Retrievers and has a house full of hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles and puppies. She loves motorbikes, film noir, Humphrey Bogart and The Maltese Falcon.”
Miss Fortune is just as intriguing as its cover suggests. This debut novel reveals a talented new Canadian writer with a flair for mystery and historical details. Fans of Miss Fortune will want to check out its sequel, Miss Match, which takes Allie to Europe in search of David.
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