book review: Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart

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LADY COP MAKES TROUBLE by Amy Stewart
★★★
Houghton Mifflin, 2016

Girl Waits with Gun was one of my favorite books I read last year – I thought it was a fun and delightful story with vibrant characters that I found unexpectedly moving. Lady Cop Makes Trouble is a formidable attempt at continuing Constance Kopp’s story, but for me, it just lacked the magic of Girl Waits with Gun.

My main problem is that I think this actually would have been much better suited to a short story than a novel. The overarching plot – prisoner escapes, Constance tracks him down – is somehow stretched out to span 300 pages, in a narrative that gets bogged down by a lot of filler, which includes some cases in the background that end up being ultimately inconsequential.

One element from Girl Waits with Gun that I was really hoping would be explored in more detail here is Constance’s relationship with Fleurette (I won’t say why, in case you haven’t read Girl Waits with Gun, because you should). But Norma and Fleurette actually took a backseat for the most part of Lady Cop Makes Trouble. Sheriff Heath had a much bigger role than the two of them, and while I found his dynamic with Constance compelling, I would have liked to have seen much more of Constance’s sisters. After all, that was my favorite thing about Girl Waits with Gun – over a year later, a lot of details of that plot escape me, but what really stands out when I think about that book is the fascinating relationship between Constance and her sisters. Lady Cop Makes Trouble is somehow more focused on plot than characters, even though its plot is weaker. It’s not a good combination.

As always, Amy Stewart’s research is impeccable. I highly recommend reading her afterword about which elements of this book were real and which were fictionalized – it’s fascinating reading.

Bottom line – I didn’t dislike this at all. But where I found Girl Waits with Gun to be fun, enthralling, and a real page-turner, I was always lukewarm about Lady Cop Makes Trouble – at some points I got engrossed in the narrative, but at others, I really had to push myself to keep reading. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for it, maybe it’s suffering from Second Book Syndrome, I don’t know. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it the way I’d wanted to. At any rate, I have the third installment, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, from Netgalley, and I’m hoping this series continues (concludes? I’m not sure if Stewart intends to write more) on a stronger note.

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