Saturday, February 25, 2023

Book Review: Smoke and Mirrors by Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Michaels)

Smoke and Mirrors

Elizabeth Peters writing as Barbara Michaels
Publication: Road (June 7, 2022)

Description An idealistic young woman finds working a political campaign can be murder in this romantic suspense novel by “a master storyteller” (Mary Higgins Clark).

Young Erin Hartsock arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition—and little interest in politics. However, when she’s offered a position on a congresswoman’s campaign for the Senate, she’s more than happy to flee her dead-end job to take on what she expects will be boring administrative work . . .

But as the campaign heats up, disturbing events follow. There’s a string of dangerous fires, a violent attack, and a seemingly accidental death. Erin begins to wonder about her colleagues all while they grow suspicious of her. Someone’s got a secret—and with the election looming, Erin must quickly uncover who’s behind the chaos before she becomes a prime candidate for murder.

My Thoughts: After the death of her father and in the hopes of making a new start, Erin Hartsock arrives in Washington DC. After some disappointing jobs and being passed over for earned promotions, Erin is convinced by her roommate to write to her mother's college friend Rosemary White Marshall who is running for the Senate.

Rosemary likes Erin and offers her one of the few paid positions on her otherwise shoestring campaign. Erin finds herself doing all sorts of work from cleaning to working on speeches. She also finds herself over her head in the world of politics and working with people who are much more knowledgeable. 

Rosemary is a wonderful person filled with a politician's charisma and Erin comes to like her. She's less sure about Rosemary's secretary Kay who will be her immediate supervisor and seems like a demanding and mercurial person jealous of anyone who captures Rosemary's attention. 

There are quite a few others working on the campaign. Joe Esler is the campaign manager, Jeff Ross is the legal consultant, Nick McDermott is a volunteer who writes speeches and manages media and is tasked with keeping everyone's spirits up. And Will who does the research and is a professor at a local college. 

When pranks start happening - a few small fires - it first looks like Erin is the one who is responsible. But Nick stands up for her and the two begin an investigation into the pranks. And when Kay is found dead of an apparent drug overdose it is clear that someone is quite dangerous. And that villain is quite determined to keep secrets from the past buried in it. 

This was entertaining but also dated. The birth of Women's Lib is clear in the story. Erin seems to sitch between being a person ready to demand her rights and a person who is submissive and subservient. The men's attitudes, especially Nick's, vacillate between protecting the little woman and treating women like intelligent equals. 

There was almost too much going on in this story between the political campaign and the murder investigation and figuring out what buried secret from the past might be unearthed. However, I did enjoy the writing and the mystery.

Favorite Quote:
"It's an adventure. Exciting, unpredictable, challenging, hazardous. But I'd rather think of it as a great and honorable endeavor. 'The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the flow from that fire can truly light the world.'"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I have read some of the Amelia Peabody books and all of the Vicky Bliss books but I hadn't heard of this one at all!


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