Book Review – GIRL WAITS WITH GUN by Amy Stewart
Girl Waits With Gun Synopsis :
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 USA’s first female deputy sheriffs.
Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mould. 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 from the city to the country fifteen years before. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their farm. The sheriff enlists her help, and it turns out that Constance has a knack for outwitting (and disarming) the criminal element, which might just take her back out into the world and onto a new path in life.
Through Amy Stewart’s exuberant storytelling, Constance Kopp catapults from a forgotten historical anecdote to an unforgettable historical-fiction heroine — an outsized woman not only ahead of her time, but sometimes even ahead of ours.
One of our Top 10 International Reads of 2016
If you are going to write fiction based on fact, Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun is in my opinion the perfect example of how it should be done. From historical records of events she has inferred unique personality traits and with these developed a cast of credibly wilful and engaging characters. A strong character driven narrative is infinitely more memorable than a history lesson.
Now, that’s not to say that the period feel of this novel is not strong. It is. Stewart’s talent is in conveying such detail in subtle and layered ways, through the characters likes/dislikes, observations, feelings and responses to other’s actions. The prose and character voices come alive with lovely touches of sarcasm and irony.
Norma was the first to find a lamp and light it. She made Fleurette go back to her room and put shoes on before she walked in. I found it very irritating that Norma had taken charge of the situation. Bricks coming through windows were my responsibility.
Thankfully these days it’s not uncommon for novels to feature a strong female lead, but what makes Constance Kopp so endearing is her unerringly practical demeanour and what drives her. She does not seek notoriety, in fact she and her sisters do all they can to avoid attention. In speaking plainly and simply defending her family’s right to live quietly without a patriarch, she runs foul of society’s expectations and attracts the attention of less desirable elements within it.
It was a week before the next letter arrived. What prompted him to send it I couldn’t imagine. We had hardly stepped foot outside, much less gone anywhere near him or his factory. I imagined Heny Kaufman’s mind working like one of those swirling, sucking whirlpools that formed without warning at the bottom of the Passaic Falls. They’d arise from nothing and then spin around until something flew out of them – a piece of driftwood, a rubber ball, an old shoe. This was Henry Kaufman, spinning like a dervish until another demented letter came hurling out at us.
When challenged, Constance’s steadfast nature, courage and intellect come to the fore and she finds an ally in Sheriff Heath. What develops over the course of the dangerous game of cat and mouse that ensues, is a friendship based on mutual respect and admiration.
Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun is an entertaining, page-turning drama. I look forward to reading its sequel Lady Cop Makes Trouble (September 2016).
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Book Depository | Amazon | Kobobooks | A&R Bookworld (Aus)
Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Historical, Drama
Author Information: Amy Stewart is the award winning author of six non-fiction books, including the bestsellers The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants. She and her husband live in Eureka, California, where they own a bookstore called Eureka Books. Check out Amy’s official website.
Other reviews of Girl Waits With Gun : TheGuardian ; Paste Magazine ; Kirkus Reviews ; ReadingWriting& Riesling