Someone to Watch Over Me
The third offering in Churchill’s Grace and Favor series is by far her best. The book chronicles the lives of siblings Lily and Robert Brewster, socialites impoverished by the stock market crash of 1929. They inherit their uncle’s Hudson River estate with the proviso that they occupy the house for ten years and are self-sufficient. Churchill admirably depicts the daily effects of the Depression on diverse groups in small communities struggling to stay afloat.
The plot centers on the discovery of a mummified body in the estate’s abandoned ice-house, but is almost secondary to the social and political commentary offered when the local newspaper editor is embroiled in the Bonus Army’s march.
This controversial period in American history involved an influx of thousands of World War I veterans demanding early payment of bonus pay promised them by the federal government. The former soldiers, many impoverished, set up a tent city on the Washington Mall for their families and themselves. They were ultimately tear-gassed, fired upon, and driven off by order of President Herbert Hoover. At least one veteran and child died in the mêlée.
Churchill walks a fine line between the “cozy” mystery genre and social commentary. She does a good job of merging these seemingly disparate elements and produces an entertaining and thoughtful read.