She Be Damned
She Be Damned A Heloise Chancey Mystery by M.J. Tjia Legend Press Historical Fiction , Mystery & Thrillers Pub Date 01 Aug 2017
She Be Damned is a difficult book to read, not because of the writing which is excellent, but the troubling topics it addresses. Prostitutes are being killed, but more than that their sexual organs are mutilated and removed. The victims are pregnant young women and their victimization is horrifying. Mrs. Heloise Chancey is similar to the girls in that as a courtesan, she too is dependent upon the goodwill of men, but differs in her status and treatment. She is also an accomplished actress, and has acted as a detective on previous occasions. This case is different, both because she is blackmailed into it and because it hits close to home. Heloise is to find a young pregnant who may have become a victim since she was banished from her home. It’s a difficult case both because it forces Heloise to visit places and people from her past, and puts her at deadly risk.
Issues of rape and the degradation of women dependent upon the whims of men are central, as is the reminder that women once (and often now) are considered objects of sexual satisfaction rather than individuals. Even today women bear the responsibility for pregnancy out of wedlock, even in cases of rape and incest. The hideous procedures women wishing to end pregnancy had to undergo remind the reader of what will take place if abortion is outlawed. While being a historical mystery, many of the issues raised are of current concern.
She Be Damned is a very good, but not altogether comfortable read. It isn’t for everyone, but I think those who do read it, knowing the content will find it an excellent historical mystery.
4 / 5
I received a copy of She Be Damned from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Longlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger 2015 London, 1863: prostitutes in the Waterloo area are turning up dead, their sexual organs mutilated and removed. When another girl goes missing, fears grow that the killer may have claimed their latest victim. The police are at a loss and so it falls to courtesan and professional detective, Heloise Chancey, to investigate. With the assistance of her trusty Chinese maid, Amah Li Leen, Heloise inches closer to the truth. But when Amah is implicated in the brutal plot, Heloise must reconsider who she can trust, before the killer strikes again.