Alice and the Assassin

Written by R. J. Koreto
Review by Tom Vallar

Seventeen-year-old Alice Roosevelt is a handful—for her father, the new President; for her Aunt Anna, who raised her in New York City; and for her minder, former Rough Rider and now Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair. Alice is inquisitive by nature, so the death of William McKinley at the hands of anarchist Leon Czolgosz fascinates her.

In February 1902, the official investigation concludes that Czolgosz acted alone, meaning there is no apparent danger to her family. Far from convinced, Alice grasps at the smallest clues to prove a conspiracy. She tracks down and confronts other known anarchists, Bowery bums, high-rolling Chinese gangsters, and even fellow members of her social circle at the new males-only University Club. Drawn in by Alice’s fine features and intrigued by her feistiness and sheer brilliance, St. Clair tries his best to keep his charge safe and remain in control of the pell-mell investigation that points to a shadowy figure known as the Archangel.

Koreto does a terrific job of bringing early 20th-century New York City to life as he introduces a new heroine in this new series. Modern readers may find Alice’s excessive use of cigarettes and liquor incongruous for a 17-year-old, but they will enjoy the interplay between the agent and the ingénue.