The year is 1914. Three sisters are driving a carriage down the street in Paterson, N.J., when an automobile appears and barrels straight into them, overturning their carriage, breaking it apart, and pinning them beneath it. When passersby scramble to right the vehicle and help free the sisters, oen of the sisters confronts the automobile driver and demands reimbursement for the damage done to the carriage.
Thus begins a year-long odyssey that turns the sisters’ lives as topsy-turvy as their ill-fated carriage. Unbeknownst to them, the wealthy factory owner who ran them down is allied with Black Hand gangsters—and he doesn’t take kindly to their demand for restitution. Nor does he apparently appreciate the way the eldest sister towers above him, unwittingly menacing him in front of his associates.
Over the course of the next year, the three sisters—used to living quiet, private lives in the country, away from all society and prying eyes—are threatened, shot at, and have bricks thrown through their windows and a fire set in their home. They are driven to arm themselves with guns and enlist the aid of the sheriff. They are drawn haltingly and grudgingly into the very world they have assiduously avoided in the past.
As it turns out, the characters are based on real women; Constance Amelie Kopp was one of the United States’ first female deputy sheriffs and someone I think I would very much have liked to meet. Stewart’s website quotes her as once telling a reporter:
Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.”
Now that’s my kind of heroine.
I’m looking forward to more installments in this new series. This one went by too fast.