Jo Montfort is called home from her boarding school because her father has died. He accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun. Nothing feels right to Jo, so she begins to investigate. She starts out by finding her father's appointment book hidden in the floorboards, and it has some confusing notations in it. Her father's company owned a newspaper, and while she was visiting the editor, she overhears a conversation indicating her father's death was a suicide. She confronts the reporter, Eddie, and they team up to find out what really happened.
Eddie tries to keep Jo from the seedy side of the investigation, but Jo refuses, taking risks that no lady should be taking. After all, she's set to marry one of the most eligible bachelors in the city.
As Jo begins to sleuth with Eddie, they become entangled romantically too, and this causes all kinds of turmoil for Jo. She meets many low class characters who come to her aid and who end up meaning a lot to Jo. There's a strong message about freedom here. Jo eventually realizes she's just as much a slave as the pickpockets and prostitutes, just in a different way.
The sorting out of all the details of what actually happened to Jo's father is not straightforward and Jo finds herself in imminent danger a few times. Some of her narrow escapes are a bit contrived, but the overall buildup of tension is good. And early on I had a strong suspicion about who the eventual culprit was, but that didn't take away from the story.
The eventual resolution for Jo was positive and satisfying. These Shallow Graves is a great mix of mystery, romance, and history that hit the right spot. I'll happily add this to the list of historical fiction recommendations for my teen readers.
Published by Delacorte, October 27, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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