book review: Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart


MISS KOPP’S MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS by Amy Stewart (Kopp Sisters #3)
Houghton Mifflin, September 2017

I’m starting to wonder if Girl Waits with Gun was a one-off stroke of brilliance. I loved the first novel in this historical fiction series based on the life of one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the U.S., but its sequel, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, didn’t quite live up to the high bar Stewart had set for herself. I had higher hopes for Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions at first, but I think I ultimately wanted to like this more than I did.

The premise of this novel is the most interesting to me of the three. Set in 1916, just before the U.S. entered World War I, women are having to take up the slack of men who are leaving to go abroad – taking factory positions and leaving the house more often to aid war efforts. This was a difficult pill for some of these young women’s parents to swallow, and many of them reported their daughters to the police for wayward behavior, which is an interesting and frustrating piece of history that I ended up learning a lot about. I just wish the narrative had been on the same level as Stewart’s impeccable research.

While I was initially prepared to praise this novel for having more narrative cohesion than its two predecessors (the cases that Constance is investigating end up dovetailing with her personal life), I thought the execution was somewhat unwieldy. One of the characters does something that I felt was solely for the sake of furthering the plot, and really incongruous with her characterization. And while I enjoyed spending more time with Norma and Fleurette than we had in Lady Cop Makes Trouble, the relationship between the three sisters – easily the best thing about the first novel – always felt rather secondary to whatever else was going on.

I loved the new characters who were introduced, Edna especially, and I enjoyed reading about her time involving herself in the war effort. But I still thought that there were too many subplots here, and the way it all came together in the end was a little ham-fisted.

It’s more of a 3.5 than a 3, and certainly an improvement on Lady Cop Makes Trouble. But I’m still waiting for Stewart to really tap into the magic that she was able to achieve with Girl Waits with Gun. I’m undecided if I’ll continue this series if Stewart writes more. On the one hand, I’m rather invested in Constance Kopp at this point, but on the other, I have a nagging feeling that this series peaked with its first novel.

Thank you to Netgalley, Houghton Mifflin, and Amy Stewart for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

My review of Lady Cop Makes Trouble can be found HERE.  (I have not written a review of Girl Waits With Gun.)