Reviewed by Cheryl Russell
Miss Match by Sara Mills
"The play on book titles... are just a glimpse of the talented writing that exists between the covers. "
Allie Fortune, who shudders
whenever she’s referred to as Miss Fortune,
has a successful private investigator practice in New York City, much to
the consternation of her socially connected, wealthy mother. Allie has
just turned down a job request offered by FBI agent Jack O’Conner,
her partner on a previous case (the story in the first book, Miss Fortune).
She’s turned him down because she refuses to take his money. He’s
too good a friend and his case closely parallels her own earlier heartbreak.
In Miss Match, the second book in the series, Jack has received some letters from his first love, nurse Maggie O’Shayne. The letters are cryptic in nature and he wants Allie’s opinion on what Maggie may be trying to say. It’s been years since Maggie walked out of his life to join the Army and try to find a purpose in her life and to hear from her now, in letters that make no sense, has rattled the normally unflappable FBI agent.
Allie knows how he feels. She has her own lost love. Lieutenant Colonel David Rubeneski disappeared in World War II and she has spent years trying to find out what has happened to him. She knows what she would do if she received a cryptic letter from David, asking for her help. She’d drop everything and fly to Berlin to help him.
And there is the rub and the problem the book turns around. Post World War II Berlin has been divided up between the Allied powers-the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The Cold War has spilled over into Berlin, ratcheting up the tension between the former allies—specifically with the US. Berlin isn’t a safe place for an American to travel. To compound the problem, Jack is an FBI agent. For an active agent to travel to Berlin would guarantee his arrest on charges of treason. Why else would a government agent take an unauthorized trip to Berlin if it wasn’t to work with the Soviets?
That’s just the first hurdle that Allie must find a way to overcome—how to get them to Berlin—and she does. But once the couple arrives on foreign soil, they are completely on their own. They must find Maggie, who is certain her life and the life of her daughter are in danger, in a city that is rubble after the war and dangerous to anyone who doesn’t know the survival tactics of post-WWII Berlin. To compound matters, the duo must accomplish all they came to do on a very tight timeline, pushing even these two talented investigators to the limits of their abilities.
Sara Mills’ attention to detail—setting up the world that was the 1940s in both New York and Berlin—and strong characters are some of the reasons her novels pull me in from the first page. Unexpected twists also add to the storylines. She’s crafted distinct characters in Allie and Jack and continues to explore the complex relationship Allie has with her mother. This mother-daughter relationship takes an surprising twist during the story that will further complicate an already tenuous relationship. Her search for David takes on new urgency as the novel comes to a close. Sara’s mini-mysteries within her novels are as strong as the mystery the novel revolves around and move from one book to the next. The play on book titles—Miss Fortune, Miss Match—are just a glimpse of the talented writing that exists between the covers.
Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online. She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers. She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen Worlds or at her website.