Front Page Murder (A Homefront News Mystery)

Written by Joyce St. Anthony
Review by Ilysa Magnus

In this series debut set in WWII small-town Progress, Pennsylvania, we meet Irene Ingram, editor of her father’s newspaper, the Progress Herald. Much has changed in Irene’s young life: her fiancé is away at basic training about to be sent off to war, and her dad has decided that his calling is as a war journalist in the Pacific. Dad has wisely left the paper in Irene’s strong and smart hands—an unusual decision considering the pushback from some because Irene is young, female and inexperienced. But it becomes obvious that Irene can more than handle herself.

When one of Irene’s reporters, the headstrong and often unmanageable Moe Bauer, is found murdered, and a Jewish shopkeeper is robbed and terrorized by a stranger, Irene begins to recognize that something of a far more threatening nature is afoot in Progress. While Irene pens her stories of local interest, helps plant a victory garden, and gives her sister Lily support and guidance, she also investigates what seem like disparate but irrefutably connected pieces of a horrific story. As in many towns and cities across wartime America, there are undercover bunds popping up with insidious goals and spewing anti-Semitic hatred. Progress is not being spared.

I was held in the grip of St. Anthony’s storytelling. The characters are marvelous creations, fully fleshed out with intensely personal feelings. Irene is a gem, but so are the secondary characters, particularly the women who are assertive and smart. Will these women passively return to their prewar roles when the men come home? Likely not!

What first seemed to be a nice cozy mystery is far more and compels me to highly recommend it. There is a lot here to think about, and it’s done with a soft touch. Front Page Murder is well worth the read, and I look forward to the next installment.