Tears of the Dragon

Tears of the Dragon by Holly Baxter launches what the publisher claims to be a new “cozy” series but which is laced with some good ole American grit. The story opens with our intrepid heroine, Elodie Browne, nervously lunching in the cafeteria of Chicago’s Gower Building with her flighty yet steely chum Bernice. Elodie is nervous because she got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnessed what she is very much afraid was a “bad thing.” Our Miss Browne is advised to forget what she saw and heard by pretty much everyone — Bernice, her somewhat wayward cousin Hugh, her smart sister Maybelle and domestic sister Marie…the list goes on. The trouble is, Elodie can’t forget about it, especially not after she actually witnesses the murder of the man who she heard kidnapped. Enter a gruff but honest red-haired detective named Archie, who immediately rubs Ellie the wrong way. You just know that Archie & Elie will end up together, and they do. Their essential niceness makes a nice contrast to the gangsters and grit so often associated with Chicago in the 1930s. Ellie & Archie’s goodness is balanced by the evilness of “them” — Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and a whole passel of Chinese gangsters bent on introducing heroin to the streets of Chicago. Lots of gunfire and a big fire are offset by good coffee and homemade blueberry muffins. Sound like strange bedfellows? Well, not in this sweet little story. Not the cleverest story I’ve ever read, but the characters have potential.