The Good Old Summertime
When the Sheriff of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, dies in a wagon accident, Julia Nye is determined to investigate. From her nominal position as a typist in the City of St. Louis Police Department, she is sure of only a few issues surrounding the Sheriff’s death: that lawmen don’t break laws, even those they dislike; that prohibition is a passionate issue but not one worth killing for; and that the investigation itself is certainly not a deadly undertaking. She recruits two male reporter friends and the trio finds out, each person in a different way, that those sureties may not hold.
St. Louie Slow Drag
In the steamy August of 1910, St. Louis is rocked by murders and arsons in aneighborhood home to Negroes, brothels and ragtime. (The slow drag is a ragtime style.) The tensions threaten the friendships among a trio of quasi-amateur sleuths: Julia Nye, suffragist and typist at police headquarters, and reporters William McConnell and Carl Schroeder. After the trio pulls together to thwart the racists who try to burn the neighborhood, disappointed religious fanatics decide to finish the job, with Julia’s murder to be the spark for riot and destruction.
Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl
In 1910, Chicago is trying to rid itself of the white slave trade, and the deaths of two factory girls in St. Louis brothels signal that the vice has shifted to St. Louis in the person of a slick factory owner. Our three sleuthsrespond: suffragist Julia Nye usually types for the St. Louis police, but now agrees to go undercover in the factory; reporters William McConnell and Carl Schroeder head to Chicago to uncover the man’s background. What William and Carl discover convince them to get Julia out of the factory at the same time that Julia overhears her new boss plan to end the men’s investigations by making sure they don’t return to St. Louis. The threats all around send Julia down the same path as the women she’s trying to avenge.
Judged Best Self-Published Novel by the James River Writers (Virginia) in 2016
About Jo Allison
First of all, Jo Allison is the pen name for Linda Harris Dobkins. I would like for its use to channel readers to my fiction as opposed to my academic non-fiction. As importantly, it honors my great-grandmother, Josephine Harris nee Allison and the strong women of her time.
I’ve made my living as a news reporter, an advertising copywriter, a teacher, and a published academic. My early publishing was in urban and regional economics, the specialities coming out of my Ph.D. program. In my later academic years, I published two articles involving women and suffrage in St. Louis, an exercise in economic history.
The first article, “Politics, Economic Provisioning, and Suffrage in St. Louis: What Women Said, What Men Heard,” was published in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 71, no. 1, January 2012. It deals with the conditions that led to passage of woman suffrage. The second article,"What Men Expected, What Women Did: the Political Economy of Suffrage in St. Louis, 1920-1928," Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 109, no. 1, October 2014, is an investigation of what St. Louis women did with the vote when they got it. (I am honored to receive the Mary C. Neth Prize for the best article on women in the Review for 2014-15. The prize was given by the State Historical Society of Missouri in October 2015.)
Interesting story here: the early St. Louis League of Women Voters was not content to get voters to the polls. They organized a campaign that defeated two judges of the Courthouse Ring; they promoted candidacies of women to the school board; they fought against politicians who had opposed the suffrage vote. Then they were told by the national League to cool it, to avoid making political enemies, and to settle for get out the vote campaigns.
You might assume that my interest in 1910 St. Louis and a young suffragist protagonist came out of my academic research, but it’s the other way around. The research I did for my novels, many years ago, led to my knowledge of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League and was the inspiration for the academic work. The years of research on 1910 St. Louis are captured for readers interested in the time period in a web site I’ve put together. http://www.1910-stlouis-by-jallison.com/
The novels themselves were neglected for a number years as I worked long hours at my day job. With my retirement, I have revived the first three novels and written the fourth and fifth, along with various related short stories and vignettes. The commercial non-fiction, Storied and Scandalous St. Louis: A History of Breweries, Baseball, Prejudice, and Protest, contains the LWV story about and much more I've learned about the Gateway City.
I write, and will continue to write, because I have a passion for the characters and the setting. Standing witness as these characters come alive under my fingers is even more exciting than losing myself in a good story – which I’ve been doing since I can remember. The research that goes into period writing is great fun, and I’m blessed by good libraries, the ability to travel, and a research background.