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Someone to Watch Over Me    by Jill Churchill order for
Someone to Watch Over Me
by Jill Churchill
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

This is another of Churchill's new 'Grace and Favor' mystery series. The story is set during the Great Depression. Much to their dismay, brother-and-sister amateur sleuths Lily and Robert Brewster are confronted with two corpses. Ever since the siblings came to Grace and Favor, the stately mansion (sort of) bequeathed to them by an uncle, they have been dogged by dead bodies.

On this occasion Robert finds a near mummified corpse in the old icehouse on the mansion's grounds. It has been long unused, since the construction of a new icehouse in a more convenient location, and it is evident that the unknown victim has been there for several years. Lily, newly invited to join the local ladies league who undertake to help the less fortunate, is drawn into the tragedy surrounding the death of one of the league members. The two siblings work earnestly to unravel the mysteries, motivated by the need to help members of their community.

Churchill illuminates the human aspect of the great depression of the thirties: families left alone by desperate husbands out searching for work, 'hobo girls' on their own as they try to eke out a living, veterans of the Great War marching on Washington to demand the money they had been promised. These are realistic people struggling to survive. Our generation is accustomed to social assistance from impersonal government agencies. During this era people had to rely on each other. The concern and compassion shown by Lily and other members of the little community of Voorburg are admirable, in sharp contrast to the ineffectual non-efforts of the government of the time.

The solution to the mysteries is fitting, rooted as it is in the historical background. As for the siblings themselves, they decide to 'fess up to the truth of their circumstances. They are not rich, they must work for their living, and their inheritance depends on how well they acquit themselves during the next ten years. Fans of Churchill who have not yet discovered the Grace and Favor mysteries are in for a treat.

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