Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters Series #1)

Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters Series #1)

4.5 14
by Amy Stewart
     
 

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A National Bestseller
New York Times Editors' Choice

A September 2015 Indie Next Pick
A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter
One of USA Today's "New and Noteworthy"
One of New York Post's "Must-Read" Books
One

Overview


A National Bestseller
New York Times Editors' Choice

A September 2015 Indie Next Pick
A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter
One of USA Today's "New and Noteworthy"
One of New York Post's "Must-Read" Books
One of Cosmopolitan's "24 Books to Read this Fall"

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. 
 
“A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A National Indie Bestseller
A New York Times Editors' Choice
A September 2015 Indie Next Pick
One of People's "Best Books of the Fall"
One of the Washington Post's "Notable Fiction Books of 2015"
One of USA Today's "New and Noteworthy"
One of New York Post's "Must-Read" Books
One of Cosmopolitan's "24 New Books to Read this Fall"
One of Paste Magazine's "15 of the Best New Books in September 2015"
A Publishers Weekly "Best Book of 2015"
One of BookPage's "Best Books of 2015"
One of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's "Best Books of 2015"
A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter

"Constance Kopp, the feisty heroine of Amy Stewart’s charming novel “Girl Waits With Gun,” sounds like the creation of a master crime writer. At nearly 6 feet tall, Constance is a formidable character who can pack heat, deliver a zinger and catch a criminal without missing a beat. Based on the little-known story of the real Constance Kopp, one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs, the novel is an entertaining and enlightening story of how far one woman will go to protect her family." —Washington Post 

“Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel...The sisters’ personalities flower under Stewart’s pen, contributing happy notes of comedy to a terrifying situation...And then there is Constance: Sequestered for years in the country and cowed by life, she develops believably into a woman who comes into herself, discovering powers long smothered under shame and resignation. I, for one, would like to see her return to wield them again in further installments.”—New York Times Book Review

"The Kopps are the stars of Stewart's new zippy, winsome novel, Girl Waits With Gun. Filled with historical detail without being weighed down by it, the novel is a cinematic story of the women, the siege instigated by their powerful enemy, and their brave efforts in the face of real violence."—Los Angeles Times
 
"This rollicking western about a woman who'll do anything to save her family is based on the true tale of one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs." —People Magazine

“This historical novel by the bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist stars an unforgettable, not-to-be-messed-with heroine – one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs. It all begins circa 1910 when an earnest request entangles a family with the town thug. The rest is kickass history.”—Marie Claire

"Stewart gives us three sisters whose bond — scratchy and well-worn but stronger for it, as can happen with family ties — is unspoken but effortless. Girl Waits With Gun might sometimes be a story in which truth is stranger than fiction, but it also makes for pretty charming fiction."—NPR

"Fans of strong female characters will find their new favorite heroine in Constance Kopp, who takes a bold stand against a gang that is threatening her family. Debut novelist Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun is a historical thrill ride, racing through funny, tragic, and terrifying scenes. Even better, it's based on the true story of one of the United States' first female deputy sheriffs and her brave, amazing sisters."—Cosmopolitan, "24 New Books to Read this Fall"

"Amy Stewart uses her skills as a researcher to lovingly excavate the wonderful, entirely forgotten story of the Kopp sisters, who briefly dominated East Coast newspaper headlines a century ago...Constance, Norma, and Fleurette live on a New Jersey farm, scraping by without too much difficulty until a road accident entangles them with a crooked silk manufacturer, who begins to harass them – possibly with the help of the Black Hand gang. It’s Constance’s doughty response that gives the book its title, and also its delightful verve...[Stewart's] created several memorable characters here, in particular Constance, who, enterprising and independent but with a closely guarded sorrow in her past, seems like an American answer to Maisie Dobbs."—USA Today

"Well-written with sharply drawn characters and the occasional plot twist, Girl Waits With Gun is an absorbing throwback to a bygone era."Associated Press

"[A] confident, charming, sure-footed debut — a fresh, winning and delightful mystery with a warm heart, impish humor and a heroine who quietly shatters convention."—Dallas Morning News

"If fictional accounts of real women are your thing, then settle in with Girl Waits With Gun and you won't be let down. Amy Stewart recreates one of the world's first female deputy sheriffs, set in the early 1900s, and you will be cheering Constance Kopp on through every page. The race to catch a murderer is thrilling in itself, but the powerful woman driving the book is what will really keep readers turning pages!"—Bustle, "11 Smart Books to Read if You Love Thrillers"

“Thrilling… iveting and great fun… The blend of historical fiction with this true-life story is ingenious and makes Stewart’s book a pleasure to read. The Kopp sisters are not shy and shrinking violets and the author’s style is just as bold.”—Cowgirl Magazine

"Girl Waits with Gun [successfully] mines the life of Constance Kopp and the fascinating, riveting, and almost-lost sliver of history that bears her stamp."—Paste Magazine

"[A] marvellous romp."—The Guardian

"Through painstaking attention to detail, Stewart has created an elegant, moving narrative of an unusual real-life woman who dared defy the odds to ensure the safety of her family." —BookPage

"It's set in 1914, but its heroine, Constance Kopp, feels about 100 years more modern as she boldly takes on a gang hellbent on destroying her family."—Glamour

"The author of The Drunken Botanist turns to fiction with this lighthearted novel about America's first deputy sheriff, the real-life Constance Kopp, who with her sisters Norma and Fleurette pursued criminals in Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 20th century. Stewart stumbled on the Kopps' story in a 1914 newspaper clipping and says she knew she had to write about them."—Newsday, "What's New"

"Constance Kopp is no Nancy Drew. One of the country’s first female detectives and the subject of bestselling author Amy Stewart’s new novel, Girl Waits with Gun, Kopp is a gun-toting gal plagued by a family secret. Expect a highly willful protagonist penned with the utmost historical accuracy."—San Francisco Magazine

"Laugh out loud [funny]."—Good Housekeeping

“A wry, exciting period novel starring a kick-ass heroine.”—Refinery 29

"[Stewart] weaves together fact and fancy skillfully in her novel, evoking the tense atmosphere of the time and place with lively writing and a good ear for dialogue. The result is a breezy suspense tale that provides considerable insight into what might be called pre-feminist America...Stewart makes vivid the difficulties women, particularly single women, faced 100 years ago without ever letting the moral of the story overwhelm the story itself. Stewart’s breezy style and surefooted sense of the course of a good tale leave the reader wanting to read more adventures of Constance Kopp, girl with a gun."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The Best Books of 2015"

"Amy Stewart tells a tale as captivating as it is genuinely funny in its portrayal of three bewildered sisters who find themselves in a war with one of the most powerful men in their hometown...The book is awesome, period. Hollywood could learn a thing or two...Girl Waits with Gun left me wanting a sequel badly — but, like its heroine, it stands quite sturdily on its own two feet."The Michigan Daily

"This book is a delight! Author Amy Stewart has written a totally engaging story starting with a traffic incident between horse and buggy and the new-fangled automobile that spins the three Kopp sisters into a world they never wanted to inhabit...Constance is a very appealing heroine. She stands up for what’s right, acknowledges her shortcomings, and defends her loved ones to the nth degree. Youngest sister Fleurette provides comic relief in the story with her fanciful imagination and commentary...Stewart’s historical research is detailed and her descriptions of 1914 New Jersey made me feel as if I were there. This was a book I was sad to see end."—The Missourian

“In her stunning new historical novel, bestselling author Amy Stewart brings to life the fascinating true story of three sisters who lived their lives with a courageous flair uncommon for women in the early 1900s. Her lively account of their adventures makes for an amusing, addictive tale…Stewart’s meticulous attention to detail and spot-on portrayal of New Jersey and New York in 1915 brings this intriguing time period into view. Her absorbing novel shows that feminism was alive and well before it had a name.”Woodbury Magazine

“The Kopp sisters are witty, smart and fearless. They are eccentrics, capable and full of charm. I hope Stewart continues with these women. This is a series I’d follow on the page or PBS. It’s always fun to see the bully finally get what’s coming to him especially when it’s by the most vulnerable and unlikely of characters.”—Coachella Valley Weekly

"Stewart’s delightful narrative is filled with memorable characters, terrific period detail gleaned in part from actual newspaper accounts of the Kopp sisters’ exploits, and a memorable heroine who is tougher than boiled owl and smart as a whip. Give yourself a treat and spend some time with the Kopp sisters of Paterson, N.J., 1914."—Daily Herald(Utah)

"If you love a kick-ass heroine…Read Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun. This historical novel is set in 1914 and follows the raucous adventures of one of the country’s first female sheriffs as she sets out to convict a gang of criminals."—PureWow, "6 New Books to Read this Fall"

"Well-written with sharply drawn characters and the occasional plot twist, Girl Waits With Gun is an absorbing throwback to a bygone era. It’s a solid book, and Stewart’s helpful notes allow readers to appreciate just how much of the tale is true."—Associated Press

 
Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun is among the most appealing crime novels recently published. - See more at: http://thelifesentence.net/book/the-redoubtable-constance-kopp/#sthash.ZLv00RGf.dpuf"A feel-good-movie appeal…Girl Waits with Gun is smart, funny, and suspenseful. Beyond entertaining us with a rollicking plot and colorful characters, Stewart allows us to witness the personal transformation of an extraordinary woman forgotten by history. It’s a privilege to meet Constance Kopp in the pages of Stewart’s book.”—The Life Sentence

"A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath. For fans of the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, and the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King."—Booklist, starred

"Hardened criminals are no match for pistol-packing spinster Constance Kopp and her redoubtable sisters in this hilarious and exciting period drama by bestseller Stewart (The Drunken Botanist). This is an elegant tale of suspense, mystery, and wry humor...A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn."Publishers Weekly, starred

"Stewart crafts a solid, absorbing novel based on real-life events—though they're unusual enough to seem invented. Stewart deftly tangles and then unwinds a complicated plot with nice period detail...More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome."Kirkus, starred

"In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT: Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen’s 'Molly Murphy' mysteries and Victoria Thompson’s 'Gaslight Mystery' series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women."Library Journal, starred

"This is my favorite find for September. Based on a real trial in 1915, it’s the story of three sisters who run afoul of a thuggish factory owner and then are terrorized in their farmstead.Author Amy Stewart fleshes out the brief facts available with charming characters and lavish period detail."—The News & Observer

"A remarkably fresh novel, the first in what is expected to be a series featuring proto-badass Constance, who in real life went on to become one of the first female deputy sheriffs in America...[A] witty, often wickedly funny mystery...Stewart not only captures America at the dawn of modernity, but at a transformational moment for American women...In Stewart's hands, Constance Kopp embodies that transformation."—NJ.com
 

"Stewart describes each scene in vibrant detail. Each sister feels fully developed and I feel as if I know them all. Their fierce independence and quirky hobbies, which include training carrier pigeons, endeared them to me. The stunningly crafted plot unfolds as Stewart slowly tells their story. This is one of those books I escaped into; well, escape might be the wrong word. It’s more like I get to step into another life. Truly great fiction like Girl Waits with Gun feels just as authentic as my own life. It’s like such stories are self-contained worlds waiting to be discovered. This book is witty, funny, intriguing and suspenseful. In short, there’s something for just about everyone in it. I hope you get a chance to explore this world for yourself."YamikaHerald.com

"Girl Waits with Gun is undoubtedly the most scintillating historical novel ever written about a trio of sisters in pre-World War I New Jersey...Stewart shows a real feeling for the social constraints and physical discomforts of life in 1914...Stewart deftly reconstructs an era when newfangled technologies such as cars, telephones, and moving pictures existed side by side with horse-drawn carriages and oil lamps, when suffragettes were marching for the right to vote but mostly still subservient to their husbands, or in the case of single women, their brothers or other relatives."—OregonLive.com

"A story that begins with one simple goal — the Kopp sisters want to be reimbursed $50 to repair Kaufman’s damage to their buggy — and spins out into an epic yarn dealing with women’s rights, class conflict and the appointment of one of the country’s first deputy sheriffs."Ashbury Park Press

"A period thriller that rivals any other historical-based suspense novel. Stewart weaves an amazingly delightful tale, one I was hard pressed to put down. This novel should be listed for debut novel awards."Suspense Magazine

“A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time.  I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness."—Elizabeth Gilbert

"How could you not fall in love with a book about one of the first female deputy sheriffs and her sisters--especially when it’s written by the enthralling Amy Stewart? Full of long-held secrets, kicked-up dust, simmering danger, and oh yes, that gun—this gritty romp illuminates one of history’s strongest women with a hold-your-breath panache."—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

Girl Waits With Gun makes excellent use of history to put a fresh spin on classic cop-and-crook types. Amy Stewart's true-life protagonist is a ‘rough and tumble’ version of the early 20th century's New Woman.  She is witty, sharply-drawn, and suffers no fools!”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

“Yowza! Amy Stewart’s debut boasts pomaded gangsters, pistol-packin’ dames, kidnappings, shots in the dark, and everything from Girls Gone Wrong to carrier pigeons finding their way home. You might want to stay up all night reading, you might want to lie down on your fainting couch with a cool cloth on your forehead. Either way, you’ll have the time of your life.” —Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife

"Girl Waits with Gun is fresh, funny and utterly compelling-- and Constance Kopp and her sisters are not just great investigators, but completely original women. It was a blast from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what Deputy Kopp gets up to next."— Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files, How to Start a Fire, and others

“Amy Stewart has crafted the best kind of historical novel; she uncovers an intriguing, all-but-forgotten historical nugget and spins it into a wildly entertaining tale with an engaging, tough-minded heroine.  Girl Waits With Gun hits the bulls-eye.”—Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

“Amy Stewart’s debut novel Girl Waits With Gun is an irresistible and thoroughly enjoyable book, a suspenseful historical mystery spiced with marvelous characters, wit, and humor. Is it too soon to beg for a sequel?” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule

“Engaging, lively, and substantive, Girl Waits with Gun is a perfect mystery, and the Kopp sisters are my new best friends. Amy Stewart writes about crime as well as she writes about plants and poisons. I loved this book, and will be first in line for the next installment.”—Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

The New York Times Book Review - Katherine A. Powers
…a fine, historically astute novel…The sisters' personalities flower under Stewart's pen, contributing happy notes of comedy to a terrifying situation…Stewart integrates the beliefs and conditions of a vanished way of life into the story, enriching it without playing the intrusive docent. Transportation, domestic arrangements, dress, food, the place of women and the lot of the worker are neatly stitched in, as are the isolation of the country and the public glare of the city, and, most entertainingly, sensational, inaccurate newspaper accounts of events. And then there is Constance: Sequestered for years in the country and cowed by life, she develops believably into a woman who comes into herself, discovering powers long smothered under shame and resignation. I, for one, would like to see her return to wield them again in further installments.
Publishers Weekly
★ 07/13/2015
Hardened criminals are no match for pistol-packing spinster Constance Kopp and her redoubtable sisters in this hilarious and exciting period drama by bestseller Stewart (The Drunken Botanist). This is an elegant tale of suspense, mystery, and wry humor set in 1914 in Paterson, N.J. A crash between the Kopp sisters’ horse and buggy and an automobile driven by arrogant factory owner Henry Kaufman begins a disturbing cycle of menacing behavior: Kaufman refuses to pay for the buggy damage, angry and humiliated in an embarrassing confrontation with a tall, imposing, and formidable woman. Intimidation and threats of violence follow Constance’s every effort to make Kaufman pay, finally resulting in her appeal to the Bergen County Sheriff to help her collect. Sheriff Robert Heath has been itching to lock up Kaufman and his thuggish pals, and sees this as an excellent opportunity to rid Paterson of the pack of criminals. The Kopp sisters live alone on a remote farm and are taunted, burglarized, and shot at by crooks of the Black Hand gang as retaliation for involving the police and causing trouble for Kaufman. But when Constance starts to pack a revolver and doesn’t hesitate to shoot back, the game changes drastically. A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn. (Sept.)
Library Journal
★ 06/15/2015
In the summer of 1914 in rural New Jersey, the lives of Constance Kopp and her sisters take a dramatic turn. Their horse-drawn buggy is overturned in an accident with a motor car driven by local factory owner Henry Kaufman. Constance wants only an apology and the money owed to them for damages. Her determination in seeking justice puts her family in danger as the thuggish Kaufman begins a campaign of intimidation against them. Aided by the local sheriff, the Kopp sisters defend their home while Constance unravels a web of Kaufman family secrets and reckons with her own. In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen's "Molly Murphy" mysteries and Victoria Thompson's "Gaslight Mystery" series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/15; library marketing.]—Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-05-07
Better known for her nonfiction (The Drunken Botanist, 2013, etc.), Stewart crafts a solid, absorbing novel based on real-life events—though they're unusual enough to seem invented. Constance Kopp and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, are driving into Paterson, New Jersey, on a summer day in 1914 when a motor car rams them, splintering their buggy and mildly injuring all three women and their horse. Drunken lout Henry Kaufman thinks that owning a local silk manufacturer entitles him to ignore Constance's reasonable request that he pay for the damages, but he's misjudged his opponent. As Constance's first-person narrative unfolds, we see that she's a bold woman unafraid to defy convention, determined to see justice done and to protect her family; Fleurette, we learn, is actually Constance's out-of-wedlock baby, raised as a late-life sibling by her mother. When Henry and his thuggish friends start turning up at the Kopps' isolated farm, firing guns and sending bricks through the window bearing letters threatening all the sisters but paying particular attention to Fleurette, our tough-minded heroine is not about to be intimidated. She swears out a complaint against Henry, backed up by Sheriff Robert Heath, himself something of a rule-breaker. More threats ensue, as does the complicating factor of a young woman employed at the silk factory who bore Henry's baby and is convinced he had a hand in the child's mysterious disappearance. Stewart deftly tangles and then unwinds a complicated plot with nice period detail, and it's good to see Henry finally get his comeuppance, but the real interest here is rooting for Constance as she refuses to be patronized or reduced to a dependent of her well-meaning brother, who thinks three unmarried women should naturally be living with a male protector. A final scene offers well-deserved new horizons for Constance and hints a series may be in the works. More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544800830
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/03/2016
Series:
Kopp Sisters Series , #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
994
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt


1
Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. The Archduke of Austria had just been assassinated, the Mexicans were revolting, and absolutely nothing was happening at our house, which explains why all three of us were riding to Paterson on the most trivial of errands. Never had a larger committee been convened to make a decision about the purchase of mustard powder and the replacement of a claw hammer whose handle had split from age and misuse.

Against my better judgment I allowed Fleurette to drive. Norma was reading to us from the newspaper as she always did.

“‘Man’s Trousers Cause Death,’ ” Norma called out.

“It doesn’t say that.” Fleurette snorted and turned around to get a look at the paper. The reins slid out of her hands.

“It does,” Norma said. “It says that a Teamster was in the habit of hanging his trousers over the gas jet at night but, being under the influence of liquor, didn’t notice that the trousers smothered the flame.”

“Then he died of gas poisoning, not of trousers.”

“Well, the trousers —”

The low, goosey cry of a horn interrupted Norma. I turned just in time to see a black motor car barreling toward us, tearing down Hamilton and picking up speed as it crossed the intersection. Fleurette jumped up on the footboard to wave the driver off.

“Get down!” I shouted, but it was too late.

The automobile hit us broadside, its brakes shrieking. The sound of our buggy shattering was like a firecracker going off in our ears. We tumbled over in a mess of splintered wood and bent metal. Our harness mare, Dolley, faltered and went down with us. She let out a high scream, the likes of which I had never heard from a horse.

Something heavy pinned my shoulder. I reached around and found it was Norma’s foot. “You’re standing on me!”

“I am not. I can’t even see you,” Norma said.

Our wagon rocked back and forth as the motor car reversed its engine and broke free of the wreckage. I was trapped under the overturned rear seat. It was as dark as a coffin, but there was a dim shape below me that I believed to be Fleurette’s arm. I didn’t dare move for fear of crushing her.

From the clamor around us, I gathered that someone was trying to rock the wagon and get it upright. “Don’t!” I yelled. “My sister’s under the wheel.” If the wheel started to turn, she’d be caught up in it.

A pair of arms the size of tree branches reached into the rubble and got hold of Norma. “Take your hands off me!” she shouted.

“He’s trying to get you out,” I called. With a grunt, she accepted the man’s help. Norma hated to be manhandled.

Once she was free, I climbed out behind her. The man attached to the enormous arms wore an apron covered in blood. For one terrible second, I thought it was ours, then I realized he was a butcher at the meat counter across the street.

He wasn’t the only one who had come running out when the automobile hit us. We were surrounded by store clerks, locksmiths, grocers, delivery boys, shoppers — in fact, most of the stores on Market Street had emptied, their occupants drawn to the spectacle we were now providing. Most of them watched from the sidewalk, but a sizable contingent surrounded the motor car, preventing its escape.

The butcher and a couple of men from the print shop, their hands black with ink, helped us raise the wagon just enough to allow Fleurette to slide clear of the wheel. As we lifted the broken panels off her, Fleurette stared up at us with wild dark eyes. She wore a dress sheathed in pink taffeta. Against the dusty road she looked like a trampled bed of roses.

“Don’t move,” I whispered, bending over her, but she got her arms underneath herself and sat up.

“No, no, no,” said one of the printers. “We’ll call for a doctor.”

I looked up at the men standing in a circle around us.

“She’ll be fine,” I said, sliding a hand over her ankle. “Go on.” Some of those men looked a little too eager to help with the examination of Fleurette’s legs. They shuffled off to help two livery drivers, who had disembarked from their own wagons to tend to our mare.

They freed her from the harness and she struggled to stand. The poor creature groaned and tossed her head and blew steam from her nostrils. The drivers fed her something from their pockets and that seemed to settle her.

I gave Fleurette’s calf a squeeze. She howled and jerked away from me.

“Is it broken?” she asked.

I couldn’t say. “Try to move it.”

She screwed her face into a knot, held her breath, and gingerly bent one leg and then the other. When she was finished she let her breath go all at once and looked up at me, panting.

“That’s good,” I said. “Now move your ankles and your toes.”

We both looked down at her feet. She was wearing the most ridiculous white calfskin boots with pink ribbons for laces.

“Are they all right?” she asked.

I put my hand on her back to steady her. “Just try to move them. First your ankle.”

“I meant the boots.”

That’s when I knew Fleurette would survive. I unlaced the boots and promised to look after them. A much larger crowd had gathered, and Fleurette wiggled her pale-stockinged toes for her new audience.

“You’ll have quite a bruise tomorrow, miss,” said a lady behind us.

The seat that had trapped me a few moments ago was resting on the ground. I helped Fleurette into it and took another look at her legs. Her stockings were torn and she was scratched and bruised, but not broken to bits as I’d feared. I offered my handkerchief to press against one long and shallow cut along her ankle, but she’d already lost interest in her own injuries.

“Look at Norma,” she whispered with a wicked little smile. My sister had planted herself directly in the path of the motor car to prevent the men from driving away. She did make a comical sight, a small but stocky figure in her split riding skirt of drab cotton. Norma had the broad Slavic face and thick nose of our father and our mother’s sour disposition. Her mouth was set in a permanent frown and she looked on everyone with suspicion. She stared down the driver of the motor car with the kind of flat-footed resolve that came naturally to her in times of calamity.

The automobilist was a short but solidly built young man who had an overfed look about him, hinting at a privileged life. He would have been handsome if not for an indolent and spoiled aspect about his eyes and the tough set of his mouth, which suggested he was accustomed to getting his way. His face was puffy and red from the heat, but also, I suspected, from a habit of putting away a quart of beer at breakfast and a bottle of wine at night. He was dressed exceedingly well, in striped linen trousers, a silk waistcoat with polished brass buttons, and a tie as red as the blood seeping through Fleurette’s stockings.

His companions tumbled out of the car and gathered around him as if standing guard. They wore the plain broadcloth suits of working men and carried themselves like rats who weren’t accustomed to being spotted in the daylight. Each of them was unkempt and unshaven, and a few kept their hands in their pockets in a manner that suggested they might be reaching for their knives. I couldn’t imagine where this gang of ruffians had been off to in such a hurry, but I was already beginning to regret that we had been the ones to get in their way.

Meet the Author


AMY STEWART is the award-winning author of seven books, including her acclaimed fiction debut Girl Waits With Gun and the bestsellers The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants. She and her husband live in Eureka, California, where they own a bookstore called Eureka Books.

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Girl Waits with Gun 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am am avid reader, always looking for something new and interesting to read and this was definitely it. So many stories start out with a good story line and then incidents within the storyline become too convenient just to make events work out. This book did none of that and kept me anxiously waiting to read more. It's great to see such a strong woman's character written during a time when women were expected to depend on men. I loved the story and hope to read more about tge Kopp sisters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author brought this story to life. Constance proved to be a truly strong and compassionate heroine facing a callous and terrifying foe. It was hard to put down. I hope there are more Knopp stories to come!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love to be in the middle of a good book and picked this up to give it a try. Wow, Ms. Stewart has produced a winner in this tale of Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp. I could not put it down! What adventures are ahead for them? More, please!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this family. These police and a super ending. Wonderfully strong women. What fun and inspiration Suz
Mpls_Reader More than 1 year ago
Girl Waits with Gun is an excellent read. I appreciate that it is based on a true story of women who took charge in an earlier era when only men had any authority or clout. This book is a reminder of the women who went before us, refused to stand down and made a real difference. Thanks to Amy Stewart for helping us realize the bravery of women during this period of US history. Possibly this book will resonate enough to make the HS reading lists. I hope so.
Tangen 7 months ago
I missed this one on a Giveaway, but was able to pick it up on sale later. When I started it, I realized that I had read it when it was hot and new from the public library. Didn't stop me from rereading it, though. Well researched history fictionalized to educate the rest of us. Constance was a real trailblazer for women not suited to the constraints ordinarily placed on single women in 1914 in the USA. The tale is told clearly and fluidly of a city woman with business interests who defended herself and her sisters against an influential madman and became one of the first women to be deputized. I really enjoyed it! Both times! I now have it in audio as well, and Christina Moore did really fine work as narrator.
PierresFamily 7 months ago
"Girl Waits with Gun" is a delightful crime adventure story. Amy Stewart skillfully blends historical incidents and characters, with fictional ones, to create a clever story about an adult "Nancy Drew" type character, and her sisters, as they seek justice against the man who victimized them. I hope will be a prequel for other Constance Kopp historical novels.
Anonymous 9 months ago
A good plot and interesting view into the past.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Really enjoyed girl waits with gun. Excitedly waiting for lady cop makes trouble that will be available in september.
carl-larsen More than 1 year ago
i bought this book because it was inexpensive. i was very pleasantly surprised. it was a gripping and enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kensi More than 1 year ago
I loved this story from the opening paragraphs to the last delightful line. I couldn't put this one down as I just fell in love with the Kopp sisters and how they responded when their insular world was cracked open. One of the few books that had me contemplating who I would cast in the movie/TV series version. I cannot wait for a sequel and hope this is a new mystery series.
MCT_Book_Club More than 1 year ago
Being a woman has never been easy, but being a woman, living alone with one’s sisters, on an isolated farm in 1915, becomes even more complicated for Constance Kopp. After a young, rich and belligerent silk factory owner hit their buggy with his motor car, the Kopp sisters bill him for damages. What should have been a simple manner of reimbursing them 50$ for the reparation turns into a year of kidnapping threats, flying bullets and cops camping in the sisters’ barn. To convict the culprit and his accomplices, the sheriff recruits Constance in the investigation. Along the way, a chance encounter forces Constance to confront a family secret and face their uncertain financial future. Based on true events, this novel introduces us to Constance Kopp, US’s first female deputy sheriff. She is depicted as a strong and stubborn woman who is determined to get reparation from the gang who recklessly damaged their buggy. After all, why should she accept another resolution than a man would! Her interactions with other characters illustrate clearly society’s expectations about “simple woman” and how she should act. The well-meaning, but oh so patronizing, “isn’t there a brother or an uncle who can take care of you?” question, asked more than once in the novel, is evidence of the place women occupied in society. Even if a little stereotypical, Constance, Norma and Fleurette Kopp take life in this novel. Norma, dependable and more conservative has a passion for pigeons, and Fleurette, childish and a little spoiled likes to design and sew new clothes. After some time, I felt like I could predict how they would react to new situations. Other secondary characters, such as the sheriff, are also well-fleshed and coherent. In fact, the less detailed characters are the villains of the book. Obviously, the author did not want to spend much time with them, or the documents she used did not offer more information about them. The gang felt like an ominous and ill-defined presence throughout the book, which was a really effective way to transmit the oppressive feeling felt by the sisters to the reader. I came to this book without knowing it was based on true events (in fact I discovered this information in the postface of the book). So, I was expecting a fast-paced story, with a gun-bearing too-modern heroin. What I discovered instead was a slower-paced book based more on the ambiance and social dynamics of the era than the action of the story. It was for me a good surprise: good because I took away a lot more from this book than I would have from a “simple” mystery, but some sections seemed to lag a little. All in all, I thought it was a good portrait of an era and of an exceptional woman and the circumstances that helped her show the world who she was and that she would not sit back and take the beating in silence. Constance Kopp is a model that should be known and followed by many young, and less young, ladies nowadays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book; and it had some different ideas presented, However, at times it dragged a bit. I felt it could have been edited/shortened/tightened up just a bit and would have been a better read - for me. But I can see there could be future books with Constance Kopp as the main character - and I would definitely like to see what would happen to her and the rest of her family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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