Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart / Reviewed by G. Robert Frazier
Constance Kopp could be just the leading lady Hollywood has been waiting for. She’s independent, resourceful, intelligent, brave, and she won’t back down from any man. While we wait for the inevitable movie adaptation, and for the dust to settle over which A-list actress will portray her on the big screen, readers can whet their appetite for Constance’s adventures now in Girl Waits With Gun, the new historical fiction novel by Amy Stewart.
Set in 1914, the novel wastes no time as Constance, along with sisters Norma and Fleurette, are nearly killed in the opening pages in a horrific collision between a motorcar and their horse-drawn buggy in Paterson, New Jersey. Both Constance and Norma escape the mishap with minor scrapes, though Fleurette, who is the youngest of the three at just 16, suffers a badly injured leg.
Making matters worse, the driver of the motor vehicle—silk factory magnate Henry Kaufmann—has no remorse for what’s happened, and blames the wreck on the Kopp sisters. When he tries to drive off, Constance promptly shuts the car door in his face and demands his name so that she can send him the repair bill for the wreckage to their buggy. Right away, readers cannot help but cheer for Constance Kopp, and want to keep reading.
Of course, demanding reparation and receiving it are two different things. Kaufmann balks at the request, and instead sends his ruffians to harass Constance and her sisters at their remote farmhouse with bullets and threats, including a scheme to kidnap Fleurette and sell her into slavery. Constance complains to local police, who are dismissive and unwilling to help, before finding an ally in Sheriff Robert Heath. With Heath’s support, Constance and her sisters are armed with revolvers and get a crash course in self-defense, prepping them for their next encounter with Kaufmann and company.
Stewart pieced their fascinating story together from newspaper archives—beginning with a 1914 newspaper article she found while researching a different Henry Kaufmann for a nonfiction book she was writing. Additional resources included courthouse documents, genealogical records, and interviews with surviving family members. In some instances, there was little to go on, and so Stewart embellishes the rest, from the novel’s dialogue to the sisters’ personalities and backstories. A fictional subplot about a woman in Kaufmann’s employ whose son is stolen from her adds fuel to Constance’s quest for justice.
“I have fallen in love with the Kopp sisters,” says Stewart. “Their lives have taken over my life. Nothing has ever been written about them. They were brilliant and amazing and hilarious, and nothing makes me happier than spending time in their company.”
Readers should be quick to embrace the trio as well, thanks to Stewart’s vivid imagination and finely crafted prose. Constance’s story may be just beginning, as Stewart has amassed hundreds of articles during the course of her research. By the end of the novel, Constance becomes the first deputy sheriff in the country, setting the stage for future novels.
G. Robert Frazier is a former journalist, La Vergne Library Board member, reader for the Nashville Film Festival and Austin Film Festival’s annual screenwriting competitions, and member of the Nashville Writers Meetup and Tennessee Screenwriters Association. He is currently working on a mystery/thriller novel and a screenplay. Follow him on Twitter at @grfrazier23 and visit his Adventures in Writing blog at https://grfrazier.wordpress.com.
(If you have a book you would like featured, send an ARC for consideration. The Killer Nashville Book of the Day Reviews are coordinated by Clay Stafford, with the assistance of Maria Giordano, Emily Eytchison, Will Chessor, and credited guest reviewers. For more writer resources, visit us at www.KillerNashville.com and www.KillerNashvilleMagazine.com.)
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