Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

I made a serious mistake while I read Radha Vatsal's debut mystery, A Front Page Affair. I found myself criticizing Kitty Weeks, the young journalist/amateur sleuth for her naïveté. And, then I realized a nineteen-year-old young woman, brought up in Europe prior to 1915, working her first job, would be that innocent. But, Vatsal does an excellent job introducing readers to Kitty's world, and pre-war New York City.

Kitty Weeks is well-off, living with her widowed father. They have a chauffeur, cook, and maid, which leaves Kitty with time for a job. In her position working on the  Ladies' Page of the New York Sentinel, she's asked to attend an Independence Day gala to report back about the guests, their clothes, and the festivities. But, when a man is murdered in the stables during the fireworks, it's a guest that Kitty met earlier. And, the newspaper quickly capitalizes on her presence to ask her to talk to the women involved with the event.

Kitty's soon deeply involved in an investigation that turns out to have national war-time implications. And, even her father may secretly be involved. It's an investigation that puts Kitty's job, her friendships, and her father, at risk. But, the young innocent journalist is determined to find out the truth.

The United States is still a neutral country at the time of A Front Page Affair, and Vatsal deftly handles the story of the political maneuverings, using newspaper headlines and breakfast table discussions to keep the historical details as background. The time period is essential to the story. The author uses details such as Kitty's car and clothes, the current society news, the new Cloisters museum, New York City itself, to provide background.

Kitty Weeks is a new addition to the historical mystery scene. Once I got over my initial reaction, I discovered a well-researched story that is a promising debut.

Radha Vatsal's website is

A Front Page Affair by Radha Vassal. Sourcebooks Landmark. 2016. ISBN 9781492632665 (paperback), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

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