Hard Water: An Oliver Redcastle Historical Mystery by Louise Titchener

Hard Water: An Oliver Redcastle Historical Mystery by Louise Titchener
Publisher: Mundania Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (166 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Oliver Redcastle is an ex-Pinkerton, former Union Army sharpshooter who has opened a detecting agency in Baltimore. In Hard Water Oliver (set in 1884) takes a side trip after attending Alan Pinkerton’s funeral in Chicago. He stops at the idylic Lake Erie island of Put-in-Bay. His assignment is to catch an acrobatic train robber, but complications soon arise and Oliver must deal with an old murder and a new murderer. Like former Redcastle novels Oliver meets many interesting historical characters in the course of his investigation. He also runs into his maddening and beautiful ex-lover, Marietta Dumont.

Oliver Redcastle owes William Pinkerton a favor, so once again, he is off in search of a villain. This time he has to capture Frank Aballo, a trapeze artist turned bank robber. Redcastle heads to a Midwestern island, Put-in-Bay, during a blistering hot July in the year 1884.

It was great fun to travel back in history and the time period is captured in vivid details, bringing it alive and making me feel as if I was being bitten by mosquitos and sweltering in the humidity, as I tried to help Redcastle solve the mysteries that kept popping up.

The action is fast and continuous as Redcastle gets caught in one intrigue after another. He has to locate a preacher’s daughter inside a cult, work with a less than congenial assistant, keep his former mistress at arm’s length, all the time, trying to recover the stolen money and apprehend the train robber.

The characters were very real. The action takes place in a short period of time, so there wasn’t a lot of character development, but they were all believable and interesting. I especially liked one of the minor characters, a young lad named Billy Stojack. His mother does the laundry for day-trippers and others, definitely not an easy job given the hardness of the water which leaves reddish stains around the wash basin. Billy brings in some extra cash acting as a guide, running errands and so forth. He is a very nice addition to the story, making it seem even more real and human.

If you want to feel what it was like to be a Pinkerton detective, rub shoulders with famous historical figures, all the time trying to solve an interesting murder, then Hard Water may be just what you are looking for.

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