Twenty six year old Emma March seems as knowledgeable as her employer, Jeff Graham, when it comes to selling antiques in the shop where she works. The action begins when she stumbles upon the body of a rich collector on the shop floor. For a while everyone is suspect, even Emma herself. With help from her would-be criminologist boyfriend Hank, she uncovers clues and bravely follows leads in an effort to solve the crime.
Dean, writing in the 1930s, gives us some insight into what it was like to be a single woman living in a big city toward the end of the Great Depression. Emma lives alone, is financially self sufficient, and is able to hold her own against male barbs and putdowns when she joins the boys sipping scotch in the shops basement. She also is given to insights and ruminations about human nature, particularly of the male variety.
This is not a fast paced story, but a nicely written one. There is only brief mention of the effects of the Depression, and nothing about larger political events. Nineteen thirties Boston, however, is fully described. In a way the city becomes s w a character on its own.
This vintage press book was originally published in 1939. It is the first of three books featuring Emma.