Monday, October 21, 2019
Miss Starr's Good-bye, by Leslie Budewitz
It was just last month that I wrote in this space about mysteries that feature historical figures. Naturally enough such tales are usually about well known people: Samuel Johnson, Weegee, Eleanor Roosevelt...
Not so today. This is (at least) the second story by Leslie Budewitz about Stagecoach Mary, a former slave who moved to Cascade Montana in 1885 to take care of a member of the family she had worked for back east who was now the head of a Catholic school.
This story is not about a nun; far from it. (Although one character makes an innocent comparison between the women, causing Mary to have a coughing fit. Miss Starr is a prostitute, apparently the only one in Cascade. Her brother has arrived, wanting her to return to civilization.
Her reply: "If you want to take me back to Philadelphia, you might as well kill me first. Because a life in a gilded cage would be the death of me."
Someone does die and Mary needs the help of a young Indian girl to solve the puzzle. Most of the story is told from Josie's viewpoint which makes it all the more intriguing, since we understand much of what she does not.