Reviewed by Cheryl Russell
Miss Fortune by Sara Mills
"...witty, funny, and unpredictable..."
Her name is Allie, Allie Fortune,
and she’s a PI. She’s a
one of a kind private eye—it’s 1947 and she’s the only
female private investigator in New York City. She has a reputation as one
of the city’s best investigators; a reputation that mortifies her
high-society mother and has garnered her the moniker “P.I. Princess” from
Allie’s male counterparts.
But her stellar reputation can’t solve the case that haunts her days and keeps her awake at nights—what happened to her fiancée, David? He disappeared during WWII and Allie doesn’t know if he is dead or alive.
A manila file that may contain the answer to David’s fate has her awake at 2:30 am on August 8, 1947. She hadn’t opened it when it was delivered, and now the thought of what it might hold won’t let her sleep. She gives up and heads back to her office, compelled by the information—good or bad—the envelope contains.
Once her need to know urge is satisfied, she decides to try to catch a little sleep; but a commotion outside interrupts her plans. Allie isn’t keen on letting in the woman at her office door because “as a general rule, when someone knocks on a door at three in the morning, it means trouble. They are either causing it or being chased by it. I wasn’t keen on either.” Allie concedes to the fear she hears in the woman’s voice and opens the door.
After a rocky start, Allie learns the small woman in her office is named Mary Gordon and Mary is convinced someone is trying to kill her. Mary cleans offices after work hours and someone followed her home last week. Tonight, as she was getting home, Mary noticed a light on in her apartment window and that tipped her off something was wrong. A widow with a very small income, Mary is vigilant about turning off her lights when she is out.
Allie’s professional assessment is that Mary is telling the truth—her clothing and demeanor support Mary’s story. This is information that also tells Allie she won’t be taking on Mary’s case because Mary can’t possibly afford her. Mary puts that assumption to rest when she pulls out a wad of hundred dollar bills stashed away in her belt. That is Allie’s first clue that something isn’t quite right about Mary’s tale, that “Mary Gordon was genuinely afraid of something, but I also had the feeling that she was playing fast and loose with the truth.” Allie’s acceptance of Mary’s case sets her on a path involving Russian and East German spies, the FBI, and an ancient, stolen treasure.
Being a female P.I. in New York City in 1947 doesn’t intimidate Allie. Thugs lurking in dark streets or doorways don’t faze the P.I. Princess either. The intimidation award belongs solely to Allie’s mother, whose goal in life is to marry Allie off to a socially acceptable husband, so Allie can lead a proper life as a wife and mother. Wednesday night dinners belong to mother and are the bane of Allie’s existence. But one Wednesday night dinner is a pivot point in Allie’s life, on both a professional and personal level. Special Agent Jack O’Conner becomes her partner in Mary Gordon’s case and may provide the key to David’s fate.
Sara Mills’ debut novel “Miss Fortune” is witty, funny, and unpredictable. Written in first person, Allie shines on the pages, her personality springing forth from dialogue, thoughts, and interactions with other well-written characters. The novel moves along at a quick, but not rushed, pace and kept me guessing with each turn of the page. Sara Mills has written a novel that is a joy to read and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.
Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online. She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers. She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen Worlds or at her website.