Murder on the Boulevard by Anne Sloan Set in 1912, Anne Sloan's "Murder on the Boulevard" gives the reader a rather intimate look into the city of Houston, Texas during the years before WWI and the time of suffragettes. For those who are familiar with present-day Houston will enjoy reading about well-known street names and the wonderment of the characters as they gawk at buildings up to sixteen stories high! Sloan's heroine Flora Logan is summoned back to Houston Heights from New York City after being banished by her father four years earlier. The mystery surrounding her father's death and the fate of his marble company bring her back in contact with family and friends that she left behind. On the train ride from New York City, she meets a young millionaire pumping big bucks into Houston's skyline and his lawyer. Flora's adventures bring her in frequent contact with the lawyer Max Andrews and, much to her chagrin, begins to fall for him, entirely against her feminist ideals. She alternately views him as charming then antagonistic. As she begins to probe into her father's death, Flora finds hints that there may have been some shady dealings within his marble company. The secretary her dad hired seems to have duties outside the office that aren't exactly aboveboard. What disturbs Flora the most is the man indirectly responsible for her banishment is a supervisor, also hired by her father. Before she was sent away, Flora had made a trip alone to Beaumont when her parents had left town on a short trip. For a young woman to travel unaccompanied was unheard of in those days. A business associate of her father's gave Flora a ride from the train station in Beaumont to an isolated place of botanical interest to her, promising to return for her later in the day. When he failed to show up, Flora walked back to town, only to find out that her parents had returned early. Finding her not at home, they had alerted the police departments all over southeast Texas for her. She refused to implicate the man and therefore brought "shame" to the family, resulting in her exile. Four years later, that same man is now working at the marble company and appears to have no remorse or conscience about his abandonment of her. Flora's stay in New York City has put her far ahead of her friends' ideals of marriage, men and womanhood, and sometimes put her in conflict with the Houstonian way of thinking at that time. Her training in botany gets her into as much trouble as her liberated woman views do. It was unusual for a woman to have any type of advanced education. Her wit, intelligence and spunk help her solve the mystery, but those characteristics are what draw the reader to Flora. Ms. Sloan has developed a character that we like, cheer for and sympathize with. The confrontation between Flora and her father's secretary was a great scene, but too brief and the only one in the book. More pages like this could help bring out Flora's personality much more and would make reading more fun, as well. We can see how far our culture has progressed from the attitudes a century ago, as Flora rages against the limited expectations of women, who were raised to be wives, mothers and homemakers and not to think for themselves or have opinions. "Murder on the Boulevard" is a pleasant and enjoyable read that does not take itself too seriously. It remains well-grounded and charming.
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