Fiction River: Hidden in Crime by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, editor

Fiction River: Hidden in Crime by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, editor
Publisher: WMG Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical
Length: Full Length (308 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Imagine paying a fine for walking across town. Or hiding an illegal marriage. Or losing your life for playing the harp. Strange crimes, dangerous activities, some from the not-so-distant past, return to life in Hidden in Crime. See why Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine says Fiction River’s crime volumes have “high quality throughout.”

What’s forbidden for one generation isn’t always a crime a few years, decades, or centuries later.

“On the Edge of Nations” was about a slave and her young daughter who are running away from their master and are very close to finding safety in Indian territory. The characters were incredibly sympathetic and the plot was so quickly paced that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page. I was so wrapped up in finding out if these women would escape the men who were searching for them that I couldn’t wait to see what happened to them. Their plight kept me guessing until the last sentence of the final scene.

Some of the stories in this book spent a disproportionate time focusing on what it was that used to be illegal. While I definitely enjoyed reading them, I would have given this collection a much higher rating had they spent more time exploring the characters and setting than showing the readers which common things were once considered to be a crime. “Sisters in Suffrage” was a good example of this. It showed what happened Emily when she decided to join in the fight to give American women the right to vote. The historical details were absolutely fascinating, but they often overshadowed Emily’s experiences and personality. I would have really liked to see more time spent showing how this character reacted to all of the awful things that happened to her and the other protestors in an attempt to make them give up their fight.

One of the things I appreciated the most about “Knocked Up” was how many details about life in the 1950s that the narrator was able to incorporate into the plot. The storyline follows an unmarried teenage girl who has just discovered she is pregnant and is trying to figure out a way to salvage her future and her reputation in a town that doesn’t have any empathy for women in that situation. The characters and their lives were described so vividly and three-dimensionally that I felt as though I were immersed in a full length-novel. I simply didn’t want it to end.

I’d recommend Fiction River: Hidden in Crime to anyone who is in the mood for a creative set of historical mysteries.

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