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Green Grow the Victims (Hilda Johansson Series #3)

Green Grow the Victims (Hilda Johansson Series #3)

5.0 1
by Jeanne M. Dams

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her third mildly pleasant encounter with villainy (after 2000's Killing Cassidy), full-time housekeeper and part-time sleuth Hilda Johansson suggests that "once upon a time" wasn't always what it was cracked up to be. Take turn-of-the-century America. Remember? Life was simpler. Men were men, women honored and obeyed, and you could beat the hell out of your kids. As described in Dams's novel, life 100 or so years ago in South Bend, Ind., was like being strapped into a behavioral corset that allowed little room to live and breathe. She is especially good at period detail, while her characters are very real. Immigrant families like the Johanssons worked long hours for little pay to bring their families from the old country. In this case, relatives of the man Hilda loves ask her to find Uncle Dan, the flamboyant Democratic candidate for the city council whom the police suspect of murder. Dan was last seen talking to the victim, his political rival. His blood-stained shillelagh was left next to the body. And the only eyewitness is the parish priest who swears it was Dan who did it. Hilda's wealthy employers allow her a week off with pay to find Uncle Dan. Her methods are largely guesswork, the plot thin and improbable. Dams's prose, however, moves smoothly along. This isn't a book for everyone, but if you want to know how to clean a sooty windowsill... (June 19) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Hilda Johansson, the indomitable sleuthing servant, returns in this third mystery featuring life in early 1900s South Bend, Indiana. Hilda, a maid at Tippecanoe Place, the Studebaker estate, enjoys her friendship with fireman Patrick Cavanaugh, although a relationship between a Swedish Lutheran and an Irish Catholic is frowned upon. Because of her past successes in detection, Hilda is hurt and surprised when Patrick adamantly rejects her help in locating his missing uncle, Daniel Malloy, the flamboyant city council candidate and chief suspect in his opponent's murder. The favor Hilda had wanted to do for Patrick becomes an assignment when Colonel Studebaker and his cronies, motivated by the powerful Malloy family, give her the job of uncovering the truth about Daniel's disappearance. Hilda now finds she must walk carefully through minefields of suspicion and prejudice between the Irish and the Swedish communities and between members of South Bend high society and the immigrants who clean, cook, and work in their factories. This excellent historical fiction novel is an intriguing mystery that will appeal to teen fans of both genres. Although recommended for senior high school readers, it also is suitable for facile middle school readers. Each Hilda Johansson adventure makes a great transition to adult fare for fans of the Dear America series. Dams opens a window into the early 1900s that informs readers about the past and illuminates aspects of the current debate on immigration, making this novel and each of Hilda's other stories perfect for curriculum support. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, definedas grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Walker, 210p, $23.95. Ages 15 to Adult. Reviewer: Joanna Morrison
Kirkus Reviews
Third in Dams's series (Death in Lacquer Red, 1999, etc.) featuring Swedish housemaid-sleuth Hilda Johansson, still working, in 1902, for the Studebaker family, headed by Colonel George Studebaker, ensconced in their South Bend mansion. Hilda's Irish friend Patrick Cavanaugh lives in South Bend too, as does his uncle Daniel Malloy, a Democrat running for a local council seat against Republican John Bishop. One day, in the middle of a visit to the local county fair, Patrick and Hilda are interrupted by Malloy's son Clancy, frantic because Bishop has been found beaten to death, evidently by Daniel's shillelagh, and Daniel himself has disappeared. Daniel's dignified wife, aware of Hilda's previous successful forays, sends Colonel George and a pair of pillars of the local Irish community to ask her help (and even offer a small emolument) in finding Daniel. Find him Hilda does, barely alive but claiming innocence in the murder of Bishop. Finding that killer will be a much harder task for the starchy heroine—one that nearly costs her life before it's over. The author's evocation of the tensions between newly arrived immigrants with different lifestyles, languages, and religions adds a lively element to the mundane plotting. And Hilda continues to charm in her modest way. Unriveting entertainment that's easy to take.

Product Details

Beeler, Thomas T. Publisher
Publication date:
Hilda Johansson Series , #3
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 9.84(h) x 0.74(d)

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Green Grow the Victims 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1902 America, citizens looked down upon the new wave of immigrants, but the government could not close the door on them because they were needed as labor. Within the various immigration groups, friction exists. Swedish Protestants and Irish Catholics brought their animosity towards one another across the ocean. However, upper servant Hilda Johansson and firefighter Patrick Malley remain friends in spite of the objections of family.

At a fair attended by Patrick and Hilda, his uncle running for council disappears. The authorities believe that he ran away because he killed his rival, but Patrick¿s aunt feels her spouse¿s life is in jeopardy. She hires Hilda, who has solved several homicides, to find her missing husband.

Jeanne M. Dams provides a realistic portrayal of what life was like for an immigrant in the Midwest in 1902. The author also shows the deep social class divisions that hindered free speech. Hilda is an intrepid heroine who follows her convictions rather than social dictates. GREEN GROW THE VICTIMS is a fast-paced and fascinating historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner