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The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe: A Book Review

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc
Author: Jennifer Kincheloe
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 370
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher and the audiobook was given to me by Audiobookworm Promotions blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels--but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. 

     Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. 

     If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father's collapsing bank. 

     Anna must choose--either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

     My Review: Anna is a socialite that lives under the eye of her chaperones and her controlling father. One day she decides to escape her father by trying to elope with a poor man. When things don’t go her way, she decides to bribe a chaperone and become a police matron. One day, she discovers that the deaths of some prostitutes may not be suicides, but that there may be an actual killer on the run! Anna teams up with detective Joe Singer to find the murderer.

  I tried to read this book back in 2015, but I had to put it down. I picked it up six months later, and I put it down again. I tried to listen to the audiobook version, but I gave up. It was not until I joined Audiobookworm Promotions blog tours and signed up for the sequel that I was determined to finish it. The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was a very disappointing read, and it took all my willpower not to throw the book across the room.

  Anna Blanc is the most selfish and manipulative person I have ever come across! This would not be so bad if Anna was a villain, but instead she was the hero. She does not care about anyone but herself! She makes her best friend lose her job and sends her into prostitution. She does not bother to help her or her family. She also manipulates Joe and gets him to do what she wants to do. She does not care about his feelings. Besides being selfish, Anna does a lot of stupid actions that really do not make any sense. She is supposed to be smart and clever, but I thought she was the least intelligent character in her own story. Thus, Anna was a very frustrating character, and it is mostly because of her that I gave the book up three times.

  Overall, this was a very disappointing historical mystery. It was supposed to be a comedy. However, it rubbed me the wrong way. I did not think it was funny at all, but very off putting. The mystery aspect was mostly in the background and instead focused on Anna’s love life. Once the murderer was revealed, there was no clear explanation for his motivations. It just did not make any sense. The audiobook was better than the book. If I did not listen to it, I mostly likely would have left it unfinished. The story was mostly told than shown. All of the characters were one dimensional. Besides Joe Singer, all the male characters are unlikable. It makes me wonder if the author secretly hates men. The only thing that I liked about the book was the setting. I like the historical tidbits in the novel, but it was not enough to save it. I hope the sequel will be better, but I have little faith it can turn things around.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars 


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