Crimson Snow

Written by Jeanne M. Dams
Review by James Hawking

Hilda Johansson solves another South Bend, Indiana, murder mystery while continuing to work as a maid in the Studebaker household, the wealthiest and most genteel in town. When Hilda is not polishing, dusting, or being bullied by the butler, she shocks her Swedish Lutheran family by keeping company with her Irish Catholic intended husband. This entry in the series is loosely based on the 1904 murder of a local schoolteacher. Dams creates the atmosphere of that transitional time with newly flickering electric street lights and a factory switching from the manufacture of carriages to that of motor cars, something the elder Studebaker considers a foolish fad. The northern Indiana January is so cold that when Hilda provides evidence that seems to solve the case, the police refuse to pursue the killer until the blizzard stops, not wanting a horse to break a leg. Casting an immigrant maid as heroine allows for much social observation across classes, and adds interest to this portrait of American society in a small city over a hundred years ago.