A Sacrificial Matter
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Pages: 72
Goes Well With: A plate of sandwiches and a glass of wine

In the 1920s, it was hard for a working woman to be taken seriously. It was even more difficult for a female Tlingit private detective in Juneau, Alaska, watching people’s faces change as she approached, finding herself introduced to them as “that native woman.” But Sarah is a loving wife and mother, as well as a dogged investigator with quick skills in observation and disguise. Soon she’s infiltrating secret societies, stealing sacrificial wine for ceremonies, pretending to be someone she’s not, and being taken, perhaps, just a little too seriously by the wrong people.

Ilona Fridle’s A Sacrificial Matter is a spinoff from the author’s Dangerous Times series, but it can easily be enjoyed during a soothing lunch break without reading the other books. The characters soon come to life with natural dialogue and telling details of culture and time—including the lack of alcohol for that “pagan” ritual. Sarah has only just been given permission to drive her husband’s car, and she “still ground the clutch on occasion but was getting better.” But in disguise, Sarah the Tlingit can be anyone she likes. The question is: will she like—or even survive—what she’s getting herself into.

  
 
I enjoyed the relationship between Sarah and her husband and son, with its nicely balanced blend of genuine affection and brave determination. The rising sense of danger in this novel kept me glued to the page, and clues are nicely sprinkled with red herrings, allowing the reader that pleasing sense of almost solving it all. Best of all is the author’s depiction of an outsider, looking in on white American life and longing for a better time to come.

A Sacrificial Matter is a cool short mystery with great character and plot and a nicely thought-provoking message slipped between the lines.

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