C.K. Crigger's Two Feet Below is my favorite kind of mystery. It skips along at fast pace, features an intelligent and resourceful female detective, and is populated by an interesting and memorable cast of characters. Crigger has a gift for creating a sense of place. In Two Feet Below, she brings the 19th century west alive with descriptions and characters that add color to the era. The most vibrant character is Crigger's heroine and central sleuth, China Bohannon. Beyond the prologue, the story is told in China's voice, so that I felt immediately close to her and shared more readily in her many adventures. Crigger keeps up the tension throughout the story and throws obstacles in China's way at every turn. This gives the plucky heroine a chance to prove her worth to those around her, particularly to her boss and love interest Gratton Doyle.
The budding romance between Gratton and China pulled me in and I was eager for every scene in which the two characters were together. In fact, their interactions were so appealing and their chemistry so interesting that the mystery sometimes seemed to get in the way. The story's many characters were each interesting in their own right, though some had very minor impact on the story's mystery. Still, each character was so well described that they jumped off the page and only made me want to know more of their individual tales.
C.K. Crigger's Two Feet Below has much to offer. It is a kind of hearty smorgasbord, with something for lovers of Westerns, fans of historical fiction, and those who relish a good mystery.
Smart and sassy 1890s bookkeeper turned sleuth China Bohannon is a magnet for danger. Assigned to office duties in the Doyle & Howe detective agency, she lands smack in the middle of the detective’s latest murder case when a suspicious character tries to bribe her—and she takes the bribe! In an adventure that is destined to go downhill from there, China is thrown overboard from a steamboat into Coeur d’Alene Lake to drown. Escaping that, while hot on the trail of the murderer, she’s arrested on charges of prostitution in the wild mining town of Wallace, Idaho. Worse, her handsome boss, Gratton Doyle, doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her when it comes to determining the leading suspect. Proving her point takes getting shot when, bloodied though unbowed, China wins a fight more suited to skid road loggers than a proper Victorian lady.