A Death At The Rose Paperworks

Written by M.J. Zellnik
Review by Ellen Keith

Second in the new mystery series featuring Libby Seale, seamstress with a secret in 19th-century Portland, Oregon, this outing finds Libby at the home of one of her clients, Adele Rose, when the family learns that patriarch Hiram Rose has been crushed in the machinery of his paper mill. Scarcely do they have time to absorb the news when Rose walks through the door. Who has been identified as the brusque mill owner? Due to her connection to the family, Libby’s would-be beau, reporter Peter Eberle, enlists her aid in discovering why the manufacturer would be a target.

As in Zellnik’s first book, injustice towards those who are different – in this case, the Chinese immigrants who work in the mill and the European immigrants who were fired because the Chinese work more cheaply – is a theme that runs through the narration. The Roses and Libby are Jewish, each having changed their last names so as to escape prejudice. The mystery is one that revealed itself fairly easily, but the book’s strength is in its characters and evocation of a particular time. The Portland of this novel is far removed from the liberal, environmentally conscious image of Portland today. And, the revelation at the end of the book means that I am anxiously awaiting the third in the series.