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The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

An Anna Blanc Mystery (Anna Blanc Mysteries)
Narrated by: Moira Quirk
Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins

Regular price: £22.89

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Summary

Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in LA, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. If news about the murder gets out, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna work to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret, reluctantly helped by the good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent local leader. 

Meanwhile, the kidnapping of two slave girls fuels existing tensions, leaving Chinatown poised on the verge of a bloody tong war. Joe orders Anna to stay away, but Anna is determined to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

©2017 Jennifer Kincheloe (P)2017 Jennifer Kincheloe

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dee
  • 30-06-18

Anna Blanc is an acquired taste

I didn't listen to book one so this is my first exposure to Anna Blanc and her brand of special. I must say, it took me awhile to warm up to her. I liked her spunk and independent streak but there were so many times in this listen where being quiet and doing what you were told to do would have been the better option. I got used to it but it took me awhile.

The narrator was exceptional. Beyond exceptional. This was my first book by Quirk but it will not be my last. She was exciting to listen to. She brought Anna's spunk! She also dealt with so many different characters that at times it was hard to believe she was a single narrator.

This listen was nearly 11 hours but it was time well spent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Donald Smith
  • 27-02-18

a fantastic book. could not stop listening

Such a fantastic read. the author takes you back to the time period in such a vivid way. a great mystery for those whoare like a fun adventure. I'm looking forward to the next Anna Blanc book in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Neesie315
  • 17-07-19

Debutante or Police Matron?

I love reading cozy mysteries and have read a lot of them. That being said, Anna Blanc has to be one of the most annoying main characters that I have encountered in a long, long time!

When a body is discovered in a trunk in Los Angeles' Chinatown in 1908, Anna is tasked with interviewing a Chinese woman who is a witness. She is partnered with her former lover, Detective Joe Singer, since it isn't safe for a white woman to go to Chinatown alone. When they arrive at the scene, they discover that the body is not a Chinese man, as reported, but a white woman, possibly a missionary.

I enjoyed the history of Chinatown, the tensions between the Chinese and the whites, and the descriptions of the area. The writer was able to make the reader feel like they were walking down the streets of Chinatown.

However, Anna Blanc is another story. I know that she is supposed to be a former rich debutante who has been disowned by her father, but she has to be one of the dumbest supposed detectives to ever grace the pages of a book! Some of the scenes were just too overboard in describing her clothing, her mannerisms, etc. I understand that the author was trying to convey how much of a fish out of water that she is, but enough is enough! Much of the action is just too unbelievable for me to swallow. How many times does a young woman venture into the dangers of Chinatown alone, putting her life at risk, before she learns that isn't a good idea?

And, her on again, off again love affair with Joe was drawn out throughout the entire book to the point that I really didn't care what happened. In my opinion, the book could have been condensed a lot without losing any of the story. I sped up my Kindle a lot in order to get through the book faster because I started getting bored with the repetitious nature of the story.

The narrator, Moira Quirk, does a great job and kept me listening long past what I would have done with a lesser narrator. All in all, not a bad book, but not a great book. I would recommend it for those who truly love a bumbling MC who cares more about her appearance than a good mystery or main characters with in-depth personalities.

I was given the opportunity to listen to the Audible version of this book by the narrator/publisher/author and chose to review it.

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  • Lisa Hutson
  • 07-02-18

Fantastic!

I love Anna Blanc and her stories!! But I think the inventive, prefect narration brings it all together and up a notch. If I could, it would get 6 stars. Great job Jennifer Kincheloe and Moira Quirk!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • P. Beckwith
  • 02-02-18

This Is A Fabulous Audio Book!

Although this is the second book of the series, it can be enjoyed without having read the previous book. However, I think there will probably be a special enjoyment for those who are already familiar with the back story of Anna and Joe's relationship. What I know for sure is that I am interested in a third book to find out what happens next!

This historical mystery has suspense, humor, and romance. There is a bit of violence and gore, which would be expected from the story synopsis. One thing that I especially enjoyed and found unique was the setting of China Town in early 20th century Los Angeles. There were a few places in the story that felt a bit draggy, but the reader helped hold my interest.

The production quality of this as an audio book was exceptional, as was the reader.

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  • DabOfDarkness
  • 27-01-18

Anna Blanc makes early 1900s police work look fun!

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works as a stand alone.

I didn’t realize how much I missed Anna Blanc until I returned to her world of early 1900s Los Angeles. She’s such a charming character having a kind of innocence but also a deep determination once she’s decided on a course of action. I love how she can judge certain traits about a person while also finding the person as a whole to be worthy. Some would say that her current circumstances are all her own making as she could have lived a life of indulgence and pampering, but doing so would have meant giving up her freedom in nearly everything. Besides, living on a police matron’s salary lets her eat decently (if you count whiskey, kippers, and cracker jacks as wholesome food).

Joe Singer is also a favorite character. While he often has to rescue Anna from one situation or another, he is usually returned the kindness when Anna has to rescue him (though that can put a rub on his male ego). It’s obvious he’s madly in love with Anna but he’s also hurt that she isn’t willing to set aside her independence and become his obedient stay-at-home wife. I expect that eventually Anna will cure him of such expectations but until then I greatly look forward to the back and forth, the give and take between these two.

Wolfe surprised me in this book. He’s always so obvious about how he wouldn’t mind making some time with Anna in the police stables. He definitely has a misogynistic streak and is borderline lewd at times with his blatant comeons. Still, there are some moments in this story where he shines and I very much look forward to seeing what the author has in store for him.

The plot delves into Los Angeles’s Chinatown. It’s a seedy, run down section of the town full of tasty food and crime. Anna can’t resist going again and again despite everyone warning her not to. She’s afforded some protection simply because she is a White woman and Chinatown doesn’t want to be turned upside down by the police in the event of something unfortunate happening to a White woman in Chinatown…. which is exactly what has happened to the mystery woman in the camphor trunk. Joe knows that this crime is a match waiting to strike so he and Anna do all they can to solve the murder before it makes news. However, most of Chinatown is not willing to help, with the exception of Mr. Jones who acts as translator for the two (though Joe knows some basic Chinese phrases).

Missionary work was big at the time and could be a blessing and a curse. Several missionary ladies have been providing English lessons to those in Chinatown, along with their spiritual guidance. Add all this to an underlying war brewing between the Tongs, and Chinatown is a hotbed of impending violence. Anna doesn’t care. Sigh…. Joe, I really feel for you. Keeping Anna safe is a full-time job.

Humor and danger intertwine in this tale to make a delightful murder mystery. The historical setting provides a backdrop of sexism and racism all while being very interesting. Anna is the shinning star of the show, often providing a bit of humor as folks are a little shocked by how she deals with various situations. I really enjoyed Book 1 in this series and Book 2 does not disappoint, holding to the high standard previously set by The Secret Life of Anna Blanc. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Moira Quirk continues to do this series justice. Her voice as Anna Blanc is spot on. Her masculine voices for the men are believable and her Chinese accents are well done. There’s a variety of emotions in this story, especially for Anna, and Quirk performs them all well. Joe Singer’s emotions are also on display even if he is trying to hold back and I appreciated Quirk ability to get across nuanced scenes. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jennifer Kincheloe. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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  • Teresa A. Wilson
  • 22-01-18

A great sequel

Any additional comments?

Poor Anna; born with too much ambition and curiosity for her own good. After listening to the first book in this series I fell in love with the spunky, intelligent and witty Anna Blanc and the way this author brings her to life. I will admit to wanting to smack her upside the head sometimes but I think in this case it is a true testament to how well this character was created. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be for a woman like Anna, to be held by the constraints of social norms for the time.

Given the nature of historical fiction, it is easy for authors to spend massive amounts of time on info dumps. There is nothing I abhor more. Kincheloe does a flawless job of educating the reader without distracting from the entertainment value. This story, and the other one The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, are just fun to listen to or read. It is easy to picture myself as a fly on the wall and observe everything that happens in the story. I believe that is another testament to how good this book it. The conflict between Joe and Anna adds a nice romantic twist to this story. Listening to this book added a nice treat because the narrator did a great job bringing the characters to life. The voices are unique enough to not confuse the characters.

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  • BookAddict'sReviews
  • 22-01-18

Good Mystery!

This is a fun story by Kincheloe! I love mysteries in general so I’m a big fan of reading different types of mystery genres. This is a good historical mystery novel. It transported me to the time period and the main character was hilarious! She was fun and awesome to read about. I love the detective skills and I felt that this could be realistic. Everything flowed well and I highly recommend for mystery fans. I give it a 5/5!

Narrator Quirk has a great voice. She does so well with all the characters and I love love love this! Her tone and accents are great! The production value is good. Everything flows smoothly and nothing is off. I give the audio a 5/5!

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  • Lelia T
  • 11-01-18

A Wonderful Tale

There’s something about turn-of-the-century fiction that really appeals to me and I can’t truly put my finger on just what it is. Maybe it’s the knowledge that things are on the very edge of tremendous change and that life is going to become quite different as well as a good deal less innocent.

Anna is the epitome of these coming changes. Raised in a privileged society, she yearns for something that will engage her intelligence and her interest in people who aren’t nearly so well off and she’s willing to fight for her ambitions (although “ambition” isn’t entirely the right word). Having found that she’s good at detective work—she’s curious and very smart, not to mention bold enough to go after what she considers justice—she goes where no woman has gone before, so to speak, throwing societal mores to the wind. Anna isn’t allowed to be an actual detective but she gets a lot done as an assistant police matron.

This time, Anna is involved in investigating the murder of a white woman in Chinatown which, of course, exposes her to a world very different from anything she’s known before with tongs, brothels, opium dens and the like. At first, she’s assigned to work with Joe Singer but, due to some unfortunate circumstances, she soon has to develop her own leads, much to the dismay of every man she knows.

With a lot of humor from Anna, we get a good taste of how things were at that time and how a feisty young woman could get around some of the restrictions placed on women (and the painful consequences of defying society). The narrator, Moira Quirk, does a wonderful job of bringing Anna to life and, in fact, she makes me think of an older Flavia de Luce transported to America in an earlier day. The combination of Ms. Kincheloe’s well-researched and lively story and characters along with Ms. Quirk’s talent make for a wonderful tale, the first I’ll be adding to my list of favorite books read in 2018.

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  • Stephanie Carroll
  • 08-01-18

Fabulous follow up to Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Loved it! Highly recommend. Several times had me laughing out loud. Can't wait for the next one!