Review: Taking a Chance by Deborah Burrows

 

Title: Taking A Chance

Author: Deborah Burrows

Published: Pan Macmillan May 2013

Status: Read from May 02 to 03, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the Publisher}

My Thoughts:

For some reason I had expected that the characters from A Stranger in My Street, Deborah Burrows debut novel, would reappear in Taking a Chance, instead, the author introduces two new protagonists at the center of another mystery in wartime Perth, Australia.

In Taking a Chance, twenty four year old journalist, Eleanor “Nell” Fitzgerald, reluctantly becomes involved with a convalescing American war time correspondent’s crusade to prove a woman, tried and convicted for her lover’s murder, innocent. Captain Johnny Horvath is charming, handsome and persuasive and Nell, with ambitions of using her degree in English Literature for more than penning an admittedly popular fashion advice column, agrees to assist him with his investigation.

Proving Lena Mitrovic innocent forms the bulk of the mystery plot as Nell and Johnny investigate the victims life, looking for evidence that could exonerate the woman. As they follow a trail of heartbreak, jealousy and greed in the artist’s commune where Lena and her lover lived, they encounter small town bullies, a woman crazed by grief and uncover a story of four missing young girls.

For me, the most fascinating part of the story is Burrows expose of the less desirable result of US servicemen flooding into Perth. Young, naive women, thrilled by the attentions of the exotic, cashed up visitors and swept away by the idea of wartime romance were vulnerable to exploitation. The lucky ones found themselves married to someone they barely knew, the unlucky found themselves left behind, humiliated, with their reputation in tatters, the very unlucky became ‘Lost Girls’, tricked or forced into prostitution.
The plight of these young girls becomes part of Johnny and Nell’s investigation when clues point to two of the missing girls from Lena’s community being involved in the murder and becomes of personal interest to Nell when she and Johnny rescue fourteen year old orphan Eve from a couple of drunk and belligerent sailors.

I really liked the way in which Burrows developed the relationship between Nell and Johnny, she allows it to evolve quite naturally despite the intensity of their situation and Johnny’s imminent return to active service. Nell is determined to ignore her growing attraction to Johnny, who has a reputation as a bit of a ‘cad’. She expects to marry her long time boyfriend, a lawyer, when he returns from his wartime secondment but finds it increasingly difficult to resist Johnny’s charm. Nell is worried that taking a chance on Johnny’s affections being true will leave her another heartbroken and humiliated statistic.

Just as in A Stranger in My Street, I really enjoyed the blend of mystery and romance in Taking A Chance. I loved revisiting wartime Perth (my hometown) and was once again impressed by the author’s ability to seamlessly integrate the historical detail of time and place. With all of that, combined with strong characterisation and a well crafted plot, I can only recommend you ‘take a chance’ on this entertaining and engaging novel.

Available To Purchase

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jenn J McLeod
    May 05, 2013 @ 08:43:05

    That for this. I also loved Deborah’s first novel. I figured she’d nail it with book two.

    Reply

  2. Elimy
    May 06, 2013 @ 15:19:40

    I really want to read this now. Thanks

    Reply

  3. The Australian Bookshelf
    May 07, 2013 @ 11:35:40

    I loved this one too Shelleyrae, it’s the perfect blend of romance and crime in a really interesting setting and era.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: May 2013 Roundup – Historical Fiction | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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