Murder in Burnt Orange: A Hilda Johansson Mystery

Written by Jeanne M. Dams
Review by Jessica Brockmole

Having read Hilda Johansson mysteries in the past, I looked forward to reviewing the seventh book in the series. In the sweltering summer of 1905, Hilda is pregnant and miserable at being stuck in the house for the end of her confinement. To take her mind off the heat and the impending baby, her family encourages her to do a little remote detective work on a series of local train wrecks suspected to be deliberate. She delegates beautifully, employing family members and old friends to pick through gossip around town and bring her the choice nuggets. Without leaving the house, Hilda endeavors to get to the bottom of the recent train wrecks, labor disputes, arson, and murder. It’s been a rough summer in South Bend, Indiana.

Although solidly researched and well-plotted, this moved a lot slower than other Hilda Johansson mysteries. Hilda wasn’t up to her usual adventures; putting on a maternity dress and venturing out to church was about as daring as she got. While I liked the concept of a very pregnant Hilda proving her still-intact smarts, it didn’t work as well in execution. We had a lot of her fanning herself in the parlor, waiting for someone to come with fresh news. This slowed down what was otherwise a very interesting political mystery.

If you’re already a fan of the series, you’ll enjoy this continuation of Hilda’s story. If you’re new to the series, try one of the earlier books first.