Book Review: A LACK OF TEMPERANCE by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Series: Hattie Davish Mystery, #1
Publisher: Kensington
Released: September 25, 2012
Source: Review copy from the publisher

From Anna Loan-Wilsey comes the first installment of a new historical mystery series featuring Hattie Davish, a traveling secretary who arrives in a small Ozark town only to discover her new employer has disappeared…

On the eve of the heated presidential election of 1892, Miss Hattie Davish arrives in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a scenic resort town where those without the scent of whiskey on their breath have the plight of temperance on their tongues. Summoned for her services as a private secretary, Hattie is looking forward to exploring the hills, indulging her penchant for botany — and getting to know the town’s handsome doctor. But it’s hard to get her job done with her employer nowhere to be found…

An army of unassuming women wielding hatchets have descended on the quiet Ozark village, destroying every saloon in their path — and leaving more than a few enemies in their wake. So when their beloved leader, Mother Trevelyan, is murdered, it’s easy to point fingers. Now that she’s working for a dead woman, Hattie turns to her trusty typewriter to get to the truth. And as she follows a trail of cryptic death threats, she’ll come face to face with a killer far more dangerous than the Demon Rum…


A LACK OF TEMPERANCE was a delightful read, and I’m not just saying that because I adore Eureka Springs. :) I love Hattie Davish as the amateur sleuth in this historical mystery. She is a savvy Victorian career woman working as a secretary to some very important and influential people.

In November of 1892, Hattie’s work takes her to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a resort town famous for its healing mineral springs. It’s also the meeting place for the American Women’s Temperance Coalition, a group passionate about banning the sale of alcohol. Hattie’s been hired to be the personal secretary for the AWTC’s leader, a Mrs. Edwina Trevelyan. Not long after she arrives, Hattie’s new boss is murdered, and she’s not convinced the police have the right suspect in custody. With a little help from the town’s gorgeous (and single) doctor, Hattie launches an investigation of her own.

Like I said before, I love visiting Eureka Springs, so I was thrilled to step back in time and see what it was like when it was new. The author’s descriptions of the hotels, steep mountain roads and natural springs were spot on. I could easily picture myself there.

The mystery itself was intriguing, and I enjoyed how it tied in with the temperance movement of that time period. I know that Carrie Nation was a radical member of this movement, often resorting to violence (carrying around a hatchet) to get her point across, and that she had a home in Eureka Springs in her later years. Edwina Trevelyan’s character reminded me very much of Carrie Nation, so it’s clear the author did her research for this book.

A LACK OF TEMPERANCE is the first book in the Hattie Davish Mystery series, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.