In the late nineteenth century, after Emily Cabot is expelled from the University of Chicago for actions occurring while clearing a man unjustly accused of murder, she obtains a position at Hull House, assisting Jane Addams in the operation of the famous settlement house for immigrants on the West Side of Chicago. Soon after she moves in, a man who had come to see her is found bludgeoned to death. Concerned that her younger brother may be involved, Emily launches her own investigation. Meanwhile, her brother, convinced that the man who murdered their father has fled to Chicago, does some sleuthing of his own. Details concerning the operation and the people of Hull House, along with an overview of the deplorable living conditions faced by immigrants (and the lack of concern for the poor expressed by the city’s businessmen and politicians), give this novel a rich historical framework, made all the more poignant by the portrayal of the smallpox epidemic of 1893.
Death at Hull House is a great historical mystery that really takes its time and feels very authentic. If you are looking for a million miles a minute fast paced thriller a la James Patterson, this book isn't for you. It is full of historical information which can give the book a bit of a slow feel at first, but when it gets going, it is very intriguing. I really love this particular time and place in history--late 1800s Chicago. I love the backdrop of the Colombian Exposition, the social change of the time (women really fighting for the vote and beginnings of labor laws) and the way the mindset of the people in general was really shifting into modern times. The setting of this mystery is, of course, Hull House and the impoverished neighborhoods of Chicago. Getting this really detailed glimpse of the hard work these women put in to change society is really a treat. The dialogue is perfect, it felt natural for the time period and makes it clear the author knows what she is doing. There were some things about the book I didn't love, sometimes it was difficult to keep up with all of the characters, to remember their names and such. This was my biggest problem, at times I'd have to stop and think, "Now who was this person again?" Overall though, the book was fascinating and very well researched. 3 Find a Used Book Store
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***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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