Book Review: Front Page Murder (A Homefront News Mystery #1) by Joyce St. Anthony

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Pages: 304, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

In this World War II-era historical mystery series debut by Joyce St. Anthony, small-town editor Irene Ingram has a nose for news and an eye for clues.

Irene Ingram has written for her father’s newspaper, the Progress Herald, ever since she could grasp a pencil. Now she’s editor in chief, which doesn’t sit well with the men in the newsroom. But proving her journalistic bona fides is the least of Irene’s worries when crime reporter Moe Bauer, on the heels of a hot tip, turns up dead at the foot of his cellar stairs.

An accident? That’s what Police Chief Walt Turner thinks, and Irene is inclined to agree until she finds the note Moe discreetly left on her desk. He was on to a big story, he wrote. The robbery she’d assigned him to cover at Markowicz Hardware turned out to be something far more devious. A Jewish store owner in a small, provincial town, Sam Markowicz received a terrifying message from a stranger. Moe suspected that Sam is being threatened not only for who he is…but for what he knows.

Tenacious Irene senses there’s more to the Markowicz story, which she is all but certain led to Moe’s murder. When she’s not filling up column inches with the usual small-town fare—locals in uniform, victory gardens, and scrap drives—she and her best friend, scrappy secretary Peggy Reardon, search for clues. If they can find the killer, it’ll be a scoop to stop the presses. But if they can’t, Irene and Peggy may face an all-too-literal deadline.

Front Page Murder is the first in a hopefully long series featuring a newspaper editor in Progress, Pennsylvania during WWII. Irene has assumed control of the local newspaper while her father is deployed. This has ruffled some feathers, including those of her cousin, who thinks he should be in charge.

Irene is investigating some hate crimes against Jewish members of the community when a murder occurs. She thinks they’re related, and turns her natural investigative skills to find the killer.

I’ve read many WWII mysteries, but usually, they’re set in England. I enjoyed seeing some perspective from the U.S. home front, and Irene is an engaging sleuth. The characters are well-written and show the varying viewpoints of people during this time period. Some feel that women shouldn’t be in charge, and Irene’s struggles to manage the newspaper are very believable. 

I’m not completely sure people in the U.S. were fully aware in 1942 about how much persecution and violence European Jews had suffered, but it makes sense that, if anyone would be well-informed, it would be the media.

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