Devil by the Tail

Written by Jeanne Matthews
Review by Anne Leighton

Chicago, 1867. A young widow and a Confederate veteran team up to start a detective agency. Garnick, the Confederate, and Mrs. Paschal are an improbable pair. Paschal’s real name is Quinn Sinclair, widow of the late son of a prominent Chicago family from whom she is estranged. She is fighting to claim her widow’s portion from her husband’s estate, and his family is ignoring her petition. Garnick deals with his own personal demons, dark souvenirs of his time as a Union prisoner-of-war.

Against a background of corruption, gambling, and brothels, the two attempt to solve two cases: one involving a man who says he is innocent of killing his wife and the second, of a lawyer who needs their help in establishing reasonable doubt that his newly married client killed his bride. The two have a third challenge: to discover who is trying to kill Mrs. Paschal.

Amid all this, there is a growing attraction between the two newly minted detectives. But Garnick is a laconic figure who is reluctant to express his feelings for his partner. And with her personal life in disarray, Mrs. Paschal is averse to any relationship. However, as their crime-solving progresses, so does their unlikely romance.

Matthews leaves the relationship unresolved in this book, instead providing tantalizing clues to tease the reader and subtly pave the way for a sequel. Garnick and Paschal deserve a good run in historical fiction, as Matthews has created two unforgettable characters. Her writing effortlessly combines suspense and humor, leaving the reader eagerly awaiting the next Garnick and Paschal adventure.