Girl with a Gun
The first of Bovée’s new mystery series features 15-year-old Annie Oakley as its sleuth. We find Annie at the beginning of her career, in the spring of 1885, before she becomes the world-famous member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Trying to support her widowed mother and family, Annie enters a shooting contest that lands her a sharpshooter position. Fame follows quickly, as does becoming the adopted daughter of Chief Sitting Bull, a friendship with a St. Louis suffragette, and romance with her shooting partner Frank Butler. But her newfound family members are not as they seem. Annie’s seamstress and assistant is murdered, and a deadly game with many more bodies, intrigue, envy, jealousy, Civil War treasure and hostilities is afoot.
Bovée’s Annie Oakley is a trailblazer who tries to live up to her Quaker upbringing in her life and art. She loves her horse best. At practice the “image of glass flying like confetti settled her mind.” A clever and resourceful sleuth, perhaps a little too clever for her age and life station, she must sift through an intriguing set of suspects. Luxurious descriptions of dress and settings abound, but readers may find some anachronistic use of terms like “unisex” and “avant-garde” a bit off-putting.