Book Review: ‘A Dangerous Business: A Novel’ By Jane Smiley

The year is 1851, and Eliza Ripple (21 years old), is living in Monterey, California, a widow after her husband was shot to death. She was actually relived when he was killed, as she couldn’t stand him. She now works at a brothel, and makes good money. Eliza doesn’t have any friends until she meets Jean, who works at a different brothel that caters to women only. They strike up a fast friendship. When women start turning up dead, they get together to investigate what has been happening to them. They base their detective skills on books by Edgar Allen Poe’s Dupin, and make quite the team. As she searches for the killer, and attends to her clients, it becomes harder for her to blur the line as to who might be who. This is a really well-written, character driven mystery, that is a fun novel to read. The setting of the old west works perfect here, and author Smiley does a good job describing that time period. A good end of the year novel.

You can pick up A Dangerous Business in stores on Tuesday, December 6th from knopf.

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