Miss Kopp's midnight confessions

Amy Stewart

Book - 2017

"The best-selling author of Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble continues her extraordinary journey into the real lives of the forgotten but fabulous Kopp sisters ... Deputy sheriff Constance Kopp is outraged to see young women brought into the Hackensack jail over dubious charges of waywardness, incorrigibility, and moral depravity. The strong-willed, patriotic Edna Heustis, who left home to work in a munitions factory, certainly doesn't belong behind bars. And sixteen-year-old runaway Minnie Davis, with few prospects and fewer friends, shouldn't be publicly shamed and packed off to a state-run reformatory. But such were the laws--and morals--of 1916. Constance uses her authority as deputy sheriff, and occasionall...y exceeds it, to investigate and defend these women when no one else will. But it's her sister Fleurette who puts Constance's beliefs to the test and forces her to reckon with her own ideas of how a young woman should and shouldn't behave. Against the backdrop of World War I, and drawn once again from the true story of the Kopp sisters, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions is a spirited, page-turning story that will delight fans of historical fiction and lighthearted detective fiction alike"--

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Mystery fiction
Historical fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017.
Main Author
Amy Stewart (author)
Physical Description
374 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

As a female deputy sheriff in 1916, Constance Kopp's livelihood defies convention, so she's particularly alarmed by Hackensack's sharp increase in morality charges against young women who've flouted their parents' authority. In timid Edna Heustis' case, Constance's investigation reveals that her young inmate actually left home to contribute to the WWI effort, and the judge dismisses Edna's charges. Sixteen-year-old Minnie Davis' case, however, proves more challenging. She and her boyfriend used a forged marriage certificate to cohabitate, and Minnie's family demands that she serve a reformatory sentence. As Constance tries to help Minnie, her own daughter, Fleurette (raised for 18 years as Constance's sister), runs away with a traveling vaudeville act. Fully aware of the irony, Constance straddles both sides of the morality laws as she struggles to keep her no-nonsense sister, Norma, from using the law to bring Fleurette back. Constance is a blunt, idealistic narrator whose descriptions of the period's injustices against women, especially in the dehumanizing state reformatory system, are a gripping contrast to Hackensack's polite society. Perfect for book groups.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Stewart's third novel in her clever and original Kopp Sisters series (after Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble) continues the thorny adventures of Constance Kopp, New Jersey's first female deputy sheriff. The earlier books featured Constance establishing herself as an effective law enforcement officer in a male-dominated profession, determined she can do whatever a male deputy can do. Here, however, there is little crime-fighting and less suspense, as Stewart focuses instead on the very real social, economic, and legal restrictions on women in 1916, and on the prickly relationships between Constance and her two sisters, Norma and Fleurette. Constance and Norma are middle-aged spinsters; Fleurette is 18 and dreams of a stage career as a singer and dancer. When Fleurette runs off to join the vaudeville troupe May Ward and Her Eight Dresden Dolls, Norma fears Fleurette might be held against her will in bad conditions. Meanwhile, Constance must supervise the female prisoners in the county jail, protect young girls from overzealous prosecution for the moral crime of waywardness, and apologize for a colossal and hilarious show business misunderstanding. Though the least action-packed of the three novels, this latest volume is by far the funniest. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

In this third installment featuring the Kopp sisters (Girl Waits with Gun; Lady Cop Makes Trouble), it is 1916, and Constance Kopp, a deputy sheriff in Hackensack, NJ, fields cases related to morality charges against women. Quick to accumulate and tough to disprove, these charges fill the jails with women who lack the resources to defend themselves. The first woman suspected of waywardness is Edna Heustis, whom Deputy Kopp cleverly advocates for. Her second case involves Minnie Davis, whose morality charges aren't as easy to investigate, or dismiss. As Constance works these cases, her home life is disrupted when sister Fleurette auditions for May Ward's touring dance troupe, which regularly faces its own morality scandals. Newspaper reporter Carrie Hart, a friend of the Kopp sisters, chronicles these adventures with sympathetic wit and humor. The cases here are based on the experiences of real women, a technique that Stewart has employed in previous volumes. Collectively, the story lines intersect to create an intriguing window into women's rights and the social mores that women challenged on the eve of World War I. VERDICT A lovely addition for series fans and aficionados of historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 3/27/17.]-Tina Panik, Avon Free P.L., CT © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

With a growing number of young women being arrested on morality charges, and no one to defend them, it's up to Under Sheriff Constance Koppbased on a real-life female deputyto ask the tough questions.In 1916 Bergen County, New Jersey, the papers are still aflutter over the recently hired Under Sheriff in charge of the women's section at the Hackensack jail (Lady Cop Makes Trouble, 2016, etc.). So much so that Constance is receiving a steady stream of marriage proposals, which her sister Norma answers with steely reserve and a welcome hint of sarcasm. People can't take in her new badge without commenting, so imagine the attention Constance draws when she goes beyond the call of duty to help 18-year-old Edna Heustis, recently arrested on a charge of waywardness filed by her own mother when she left home to work at a factory making parts for the war. Detective John Courter, representing the prosecutor's office, insists that the girl be sent to a reformatory until she's 21, but luckily for Constance, his single-mindedness leaves him unprepared for her defense of Edna's good character, which she proves in front of a judge after having conducted her own investigation. But there are more girls where Edna came from, including Minnie Davis, who may be harder to prove innocent. Through Constance's diligent investigative work, Stewart details each girl's back story while powerfully representing her longing for the opportunity to lead a purposeful life. Constance's own beliefs come into question, though, when her younger sister, Fleurettesecretly her illegitimate daughterdesires a life on stage and secures a chance to impress Broadway actress May Ward. Constance's ability to hold her own in male-dominated investigations and courtrooms, as well as her determination to present the facts, makes her a welcome "vision of an entirely different kind of woman," hopefully with more tales to come. Lively and admirable female characters emboldened by their circumstances, impeccably realized and given new life by Stewart. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

1 On the morning of her arrest, Edna Heustis awoke early and put her room in order. She occupied the smallest of Mrs. Turnbull's furnished rooms, nothing more than an alcove under the eaves, with just enough space for a bed and a wash-stand. A row of iron hooks on the wall held the entirety of her wardrobe: two work uniforms, a Sunday dress, and a winter coat. The only decoration was a picture of a sailboat, furnished by Mrs. Turnbull, and for reading material her landlady had issued her a history of the Italian lakes, a guide to Egyptian art, and a general's wife's account of Army life on the western plains. Those sat on a hang-shelf, alongside an oil lamp ​-- ​although Edna preferred to do her reading in the parlor, under the single electrical light offered for that purpose. Absent from her possessions were any portraits of her family or mementos of home. She'd left in such a hurry that she hadn't thought to bring any. She'd been inquiring at factories for weeks, and when the women's superintendent at the DuPont powder works in Pompton Lakes agreed to hire her on, she dashed home, gathered up only that which she could carry, then slipped out the back door while her mother was occupied in the kitchen. Edna might have been a quiet and serious girl, but she'd been raised among boys and had a fine sense of adventure about her. The war in Europe had reached its boiling point, and every American boy was eager to join the fight. If there was work to be done for the war, and women were allowed to do it, Edna was impatient to begin. She left the briefest of notes on the day she left: "Gone to work for France in Pompton Lakes. I have a place in a good house and you needn't worry." It was true about the good house. Mrs. Turnbull only rented to girls from the powder works and maintained a strict policy about curfews and church attendance on Sundays. She was in many ways a tougher task-master than Edna's mother had been, but Edna didn't mind about that. She believed the regimen of living in a boarding-house to be similar to that of the Army, and liked to imagine that the daily making up of her room (tucking in the sheets, folding down the coverlet, stowing her bed-slippers and nightgown, arranging her brush and comb in an even row alongside the basin) might resemble, in some way, the orderliness of military camp life, of which her brothers were so eager to partake. But France seemed very far away that morning as Edna stepped into her work dress, washed her face in the basin, and ran down the stairs for breakfast. In the cramped butler's pantry that served as a dining room, Mrs. Turnbull had put out porridge and stewed apples. Edna sat, as she did every morning, in comfortable silence among the five other girls who roomed there: Delia, Winifred, Irma, Fannie, and Pearl. Their conversation ran along familiar lines: First Delia said, "There's a ladder in my stocking so far beyond mending that I might as well go bare." Then Fannie said, "Albert's good for another pair." To which Irma replied, "Then it's a shame she threw off Albert and went with those men from the Navy, who don't need to supply a girl with stockings before she'll go to a dance hall with them." Then Pearl said, "Delia, you didn't go with all of them, did you?" And Delia retorted, "You couldn't expect me to choose one!" This kind of talk had embarrassed Edna terribly the first time she heard it. Before she left home, she'd allowed a friend of her brothers' to pay a little attention to her, but she could never imagine stolid and steadfast Dewey Barnes buying her a pair of stockings or taking her to a crowded and noisy dance hall and then letting her stumble home, as the girls at the boarding-house did, dazed by liquor and cigarettes, with a sort of swollen and bruised look about the lips that they wore like a badge until it faded. It wasn't that Edna disapproved of their feminine vanity, or their wild ways. She just couldn't do what they did. She didn't know how to make herself up and put herself on display. Dancing was a foreign language to her: she felt foolish trying to work out the Kangaroo Hop or the Peabody, and never could master Delia's trick of kicking her heel back when she turned to make her skirt fly up. She practiced with them because they insisted, but more often than not she took the man's part, maneuvering woodenly while the other girls practiced their flourishes. Only once did she allow herself to be dragged along to a dance hall with them, and there she found herself entirely outmatched. Over the whirl of laughter and music, the other girls chatted gaily with any man who came into their orbit. They had a knack for making the sort of easy, meaningless chatter that would lead to a turn on the dance floor, then a sip from a bottle secreted away in a man's pocket, a taste of his cigarette, and a kiss just outside the door, sheltered under a dark and discreet night sky. But Edna hadn't any idea where to begin, and wasn't sure she wanted to. Every dance step, every smile, every laughing word exchanged with a man was like a piece of machinery that she didn't know how to operate. Instead she held her friends' purses, and went home at midnight with all of their keys, rattling them in every doorknob so that Mrs. Turnbull might hear the sound of all six girls returning home at once. The others didn't mind that Edna stayed home from the dances after that, and for her part, she'd grown accustomed to their ways. She was sitting placidly among them that morning, listening with some amusement but relieved, as always, that they didn't expect her to join in. "You remember Frank, don't you? From the train station?" Delia whispered. Pearl leaned in and said, "The one with the walking stick filled with whiskey?" "Yes," Delia said gleefully. "That one. He asked me to Atlantic City for the weekend. How am I going to get away? I'm all out of sisters with birthdays." "What about an elderly aunt in a state of decline?" Fannie offered. "What about inviting me?" Irma complained. "Oh, Frank would like that, but he's to register us as man and wife, and who would you be?" "I'll be the sister with the birthday! Or the elderly aunt. Just take me along." They were all laughing at that when heavy footsteps stormed the porch and someone pounded the brass knocker hard enough to rattle their saucers. Every girl leapt up at once, flushed and guilty, as if they had, improbably, been overheard and caught. Mrs. Turnbull, having just come up from her lodgings in the basement, bustled past and admonished them to finish quickly and wash their own bowls. But not a single girl moved, and not a single spoon clanked against a dish, as the door swung open and a policeman's brusque voice demanded to see a Miss Edna Heustis, who was to be put under arrest on a charge of waywardness and taken without delay to the Hackensack jail. Excerpted from Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.