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Press release from Jo Allison
New Series Uses 1910s St. Louis as Backdrop for Young Female Sleuth
Bristol, VA, June 14, 2016 • A new mystery series that begins in 1910 St. Louis uses the issues of the early twentieth century to highlight a young “new woman’s” fight for justice.
A new woman, in early twentieth century parlance, is one who supports progressive causes, including suffrage, who likely works outside the home, and who challenges the restrictions of the women’s sphere of activities.
Julia Nye’s unconventional position as a typist for the St. Louis City Police Department in 1910 gives her opportunity to engage in the detective work she learned to love with her sheriff father. It also means opportunity, along with danger, for her two male news reporter friends. In fact, it’s hard to believe how much danger a typist can find in crimes that reflect the issues of the day: prohibition (yes, there were dry states and counties well before 1920,) race relations through the lens of ragtime, sexual slavery, labor unrest, and more. As dangerous as the detection is, Julia finds the emotional, social, and romantic demands of new-woman-hood just as challenging.
St. Louis, the fourth largest city in the U.S. in 1910, is a player in many of the issues.
While each books features a dangerous puzzle for Julia and her friends, the overarching theme of the series has to do with Julia’s continual fight for respect. The situations she faces challenge her along those lines, of course.
“When I started the series,” author Jo Allison says, “I wasn’t writing to a theme. Julia taught me the important points as I wrote. At first I worried that modern readers wouldn’t understand an edgy woman’s plight in 1910, but I’ve realized the dilemmas are still with us. It’s taking a whole series for that to unfold.”
The first two books in the series, The Good Old Summertime and St. Louie Slow Drag are available on Amazon as paperbacks and as ebooks. The first book begins with the suspicion that a lawman who dislikes prohibition would stoop to breaking the law and ends with the dangerous passions that prohibition ignites. In the second book, after Julia and her friends thwart the racists who are try to burn the Mill Creek Valley in St. Louis, disappointed religious fanatics decide to finish the job—with Julia’s murder to be the spark for riot and destruction.
The third book, Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl, which sees Julia go undercover to nab what was called a “white slaver,” is due out in August 2016. The fourth book, Bread and Roses, deals with women union activists and labor unrest. It is set for release in early 2017.
Jo Allison is the award-winning author of the Julia Nye mystery series and related short stories. The Greater St. Louis Area Sisters in Crime chapter has highlighted her first two novels. Her short story that is the immediate prequel to the Julia Nye series took first place in the Virginia Writers Club Summer Shorts contest for 2015. Allison’s website, joallisonauthor.com, has that short story and others that take place between events in the novels.
Allison also maintains a website for students/scholars/anyone interested in the early twentieth century. 1910-stlouis-by-jallison.com offers the research on some fourteen topics that lay the foundation for the novels. Topics include music, medicine, fashion, transportation, baseball, etymology, race, environmental issues, and “being twenty-something in 1910.”
Readers who like to solve murder mysteries in an historical setting and who like to do so through the eyes of historically appealing characters should look for the Julia Nye Mystery Series by Jo Allison under Books at Amazon.com.