Tears of the Dragon
This is the first in a new series featuring Elodie Browne, career girl in 1930s Chicago. Elodie works as copywriter at an advertising agency and wins her company’s competition to come up with an idea for their client, Leatherlux Luggage, by proposing a radio show. Winning the competition puts her as a staff writer on the show, where she works with two fast-quipping writers who would not be out of place in any 1930s movie starring Rosalind Russell or Eve Arden. Elodie’s enjoyment of her new good fortune is tempered by her anxiety by what she thinks she heard when she got off on the wrong floor of her office building one night and by what she witnesses when working as a waitress at a private party hosted by the Chinese employer of her friend Bernice. In true plucky Girl Friday fashion, Elodie, with the reluctant assent of Lieutenant Archie Deacon and her newspaper reporter cousin Hugh, pursues the mystery and uncovers not the Capone mafia but Chinese gangsters who are driven to foment the coming revolution in China.
Baxter is the pseudonym of Paula Gosling, a well-known mystery writer who is adept at cozies, thrillers, and police procedurals. Here, she brings a cozy sensibility to 1930s Chicago, a locale which is better known for hard-boiled mysteries. Baxter is on to something, because she deftly mixes Elodie’s comfortable though financially straitened home life with her forays into the world of gangsters and mean streets. The era comes to life rather than appearing quaint and dated, and I look forward to Elodie’s further adventures, accompanied, I hope, by Lieutenant Deacon.