The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

An Anna Blanc Mystery (Anna Blanc Mysteries)
Narrated by: Moira Quirk
Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in LA, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. If news about the murder gets out, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna work to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret, reluctantly helped by the good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent local leader. 

Meanwhile, the kidnapping of two slave girls fuels existing tensions, leaving Chinatown poised on the verge of a bloody tong war. Joe orders Anna to stay away, but Anna is determined to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

©2017 Jennifer Kincheloe (P)2017 Jennifer Kincheloe

What listeners say about The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

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Charming heroine & exciting setting

"As a teen, Anna had indeed broken in to drink the communion wine, because she needed the extra holiness." I've not been so madly in love with a heroine in a long time as I am with Anna Blanc. I gushed about her in my review of Kincheloe's first book, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, and this second historical mystery featuring our plucky, daring, poised, naive, sweet, reckless girl was so satisfying and exciting. I tend to drop serial historical mysteries because at a certain point it feels like the interpersonal stuff with the main characters gets frozen at a certain point to ensure that readers can drop into new releases without wondering what they missed. Possibly this could happen with Kincheloe's series if it goes on for ten more books but so far, I'm really impressed with how much had changed for Anna in this book. The events of the first book are deeply reflected in Anna's life in this book, and I loved it. The book blurb gives a little away, so I won't recap, but I will say that Anna's decisions aren't waved off in favor of keeping her a socialite-with-a-secret. Her secret came out in a big way in the first book, and Anna is now disowned and struggling to make ends meet on her police matron's salary. The historical detail in this book was as rich and detailed as The Secret Life of Anna Blanc; with Anna's sheltered life, there's much she doesn't know, and it allows the reader to learn with her. Kincheloe does it deftly, too, so it's not one painful info dump after another; it feels more organic and natural. The setting for this book is Chinatown, with the discovery of a dead woman stuffed in a trunk. It's a horrifying murder that threatens to unleash greater violence, from the criminal gangs that run opium and gambling dens to white mobs motivated by racist fears, and Anna and the police are frantic to quietly solve things without setting off any riots. What was most interesting slash torturous for me in this read was Kincheloe's handling of Anna's romance with Detective Joe Singer. I don't think it gives anything away to say that Anna is firm -- as she was in the previous book -- that she doesn't want to be under the thumb of any man, even one she's wildly fond of; and as a result, she rebuffs Joe. While I hated this, I also admire it, because Anna is so consistent (even when she's not), and it made for an interesting secondary thread throughout the story. (I've been so deep in romance novels, it was painful for me when things didn't resolve with a neat HEA but when I took a breath, I appreciated that, too!) I alternated between reading this book and listening to the audiobook. As with the first book, this one is read by Moira Quirk and it is marvelous. Quirk just is Anna but she also does the other characters -- including love interest Joe -- beautifully. Now that I'm listening to more audiobooks, I can appreciate what Quirk does well: her pacing is great (no need to speed up the book), her accents and male voices aren't cringe-y, and she's consistent in her characterizations. She just perfectly captures Anna's naivete and compassion. I knew I was a fan after the first book; I'm now an Anna Blanc devotee after this one. (I've already finished the third book so now I am a slavish fangirl and can't wait for the fourth book to come out!)

2 people found this helpful

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Tong Wars!

Chinatown in Los Angeles in the early 20th century was a hotbed of illegal activities and "benevolent protective societies"--Tongs--which operated on much the same principals as the Mafia. Missionaries, largely women, provided English lessons (reading and speaking) as they preached. Into this world comes a defacto suffragette who dreams of becoming a police detective even though women are still largely chattel, whether white, black or "Mongolian." I haven't read the first book and am aware there are lots of background details I may be missing; nonetheless I had no trouble enjoying this volume as a richly detailed, standalone mystery. Narrator Moira Quirk portrays exactly the right bounce, brilliance and bafflement one might expect of a disgraced debutante as well as nicely voicing the other characters. I had a lot of fun with this!

1 person found this helpful

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Anna Blanc is an acquired taste

I didn't listen to book one so this is my first exposure to Anna Blanc and her brand of special. I must say, it took me awhile to warm up to her. I liked her spunk and independent streak but there were so many times in this listen where being quiet and doing what you were told to do would have been the better option. I got used to it but it took me awhile. The narrator was exceptional. Beyond exceptional. This was my first book by Quirk but it will not be my last. She was exciting to listen to. She brought Anna's spunk! She also dealt with so many different characters that at times it was hard to believe she was a single narrator. This listen was nearly 11 hours but it was time well spent.

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a fantastic book. could not stop listening

Such a fantastic read. the author takes you back to the time period in such a vivid way. a great mystery for those whoare like a fun adventure. I'm looking forward to the next Anna Blanc book in the series.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Anna Blanc strikes again

Having just finished listening to The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, I jumped straight into The Woman in the Camphor Truck with glee. Anna Blanc just has that effect on me - she annoys me with her drivel at times, but there's no escaping the fact that she is entertaining. Picking up from book one, Anna is now established as the police matron - under her own name now - but, having been disowned by her father, she is living in rented accommodation and surviving on crackerjacks and kippers. Oh, how the mighty socialite has fallen. Anna's fall from high Society, however, hasn't put her off her police work. If anything, she is more determined than ever, and she's still fighting the tide in that whatever she does well is rarely credited to her efforts. Yet, on she goes ... The story starts with Anna running away from a police officer with the head of a Chinese man and taking it home with her...luckily, she has read up on how to mask the smell until she can speak to Joe Singer, the detective she loves but refuses to marry. It's off to Chinatown next, to find the body that goes with the head and to determine what has happened to cause the man's decapitation. Naturally, it doesn't go smoothly, especially when she and Joe find a woman stuffed in a trunk - a woman who was a very good friend of hers in the past. Keeping the woman's death a secret is imperative, as if it were to be discovered that a white woman, a missionary to boot, had been killed in Chinatown, then the repercussions would be immense for the Chinese community. Tensions are already high as a result of two slave girls being kidnapped, so treading carefully is a must. Joe attempts to keep Anna away from Chinatown, even going as far as to order to her stay away. Of course, he's wasting his breath as usual. During this investigation, Anna learns of Joe's intention to marry another woman, and she struggles to hide her jealousy and maintain her insistence that she will not marry and give up her new-found independence. Their relationship is further tested when the two of them head to the woods to find the killer of the woman in the trunk, Elisabeth. It's clear these two are meant to be together but nothing about what happens there is straightforward, other than in convincing Anna of her feelings for Joe. To be honest, Anna hasn't really changed very much since book one. She is still immature and petulant. Her detective work does, however, show her in a positive light, and her efforts do pay off ...eventually. She still has a tendency to suspect everyone, and so needs to eliminate them throughout the story, and her thought process is somewhat random as well as hugely entertaining. I really hoped the romance between Joe and Anna would develop more in this book, but it did seem as though the story relied upon them being opponents in love for the most part. Maybe book three is where it all comes full circle ... we shall see. This is a great mystery, quite convoluted at times, and rather chaotic, but I imagine anything involving Anna would be unconventional. The story is funny, sad, poignant and sometimes quite shocking. Using Chinatown as a setting allows for a very original mystery, which has its foundation in real events. Looking forward to the third book in the series. As I said at the start, despite her foibles, Anna is definitely interesting and not someone to forget. I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jennifer Kincheloe. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Beautiful!

Anna is no longer wealthy. Her father has disowned her and completely cut her off. She finds herself struggling to pay for things herself and eat properly. She's thankful that she's been allowed to work as a matron again despite everything coming out in the open about who she really is. Shortly after she returns, she uncovers a great murder mystery and finds herself determined to solve the case. I really do love these stories. They are realistic to the time being spoken about. There are no liberties taken just because times are different now. I like that. If we cover up or rewrite history, we won't learn from it, but I digress. This book is very action-packed. I can't say I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. It was a bit of a sloppy start for me. The rest of the book made up for that in my opinion. It's really rare that I absolutely love a story but completely dislike the main characters. This is one of them. I just don't understand how somebody can be so insanely stupid and yet intelligent at the same time. I think I'm being harsh. I get it. She led a sheltered life. However, she comes across as entitled and entirely selfish and spoiled. I can say that this book shows promise that she's starting to calm down a bit. That's a good sign. Like the first book, this book was also narrated by Moira Quirk. She really did a fantastic job. I took the liberty of looking up other titles by her. She narrates for some pretty interesting titles. I will be doing what I can to obtain and listen to some more books narrated by her. She's not a favorite yet, but she has great potential. I will say that. She's lovely. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the first book as well. I may not really care for the main characters and feel like the rest of the characters could use a bit more of a role in the books, but the books are highly enjoyable. Picture a Stephanie Plum but back in the early 1900s. Well, if Stephanie Plum wound up as a police matron instead of a bounty hunter and if she was born blue blooded.

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Anna Blanc Takes L.A.'s Chinatown by Storm

Assistant Matron Anna Blanc is an amazing detective, perhaps the best one on the L.A. police force in the early 1900s. But she's a cartoon character who blunders her way into situations most young women would avoid. Like many detectives, she's so brilliant that she can see things clearly that others can not. But Anna, who is clearly on her own planet, always succeeds in making a mess of situations and finds herself back peddling. Here, she tackles a murder in L.A.'s Chinatown with her usual insight, and 'bull in a china shop' eagerness. It's a fun and sobering story based on some historical events. I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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A Different Kind of Detective

I was given a free review copy of the audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review Even though part of a series, this book is easily enough to follow even if you di not listen to the first audiobook. I didn't and was able to get into it pretty easily. The historical rendition of the period is very captivating and the main character Anna Blanc is an odd kind of detective, a little spoiled, a little naive, a little inexperienced but with a mind of her own. Her love life is in shambles and she tries to overcompensate with her passion for solving mysteries. Too bad if her willingness brings her and others around her on the brink of disaster way too often... The character is well defined, if not always likable. Maybe she is still finding her new role in a world that was alien to her until recently. I do like some of the other characters in the story, especially her off-again, on-again boyfriend. I feel a little sorry for him... he'll need to be very patient with Anna... The narration was superb and I enjoyed listening to this rendition.

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Start With A Head, End With A Body

Basically a good story, but, the main character is way too selfish and head strong. Anna Blanc wants people to treat her like the wealthy socialite she was born while she acts like she pleases without regard for others. Accustomed to having someone else pay the bills, she is unable to think ahead that she must pay for things herself. Unfortunately, her quirks became tiresome throughout the story. Too cutesy for my taste. I was gifted this from Audiobookworm for my honest review.

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Debutante or Police Matron?

I love reading cozy mysteries and have read a lot of them. That being said, Anna Blanc has to be one of the most annoying main characters that I have encountered in a long, long time! When a body is discovered in a trunk in Los Angeles' Chinatown in 1908, Anna is tasked with interviewing a Chinese woman who is a witness. She is partnered with her former lover, Detective Joe Singer, since it isn't safe for a white woman to go to Chinatown alone. When they arrive at the scene, they discover that the body is not a Chinese man, as reported, but a white woman, possibly a missionary. I enjoyed the history of Chinatown, the tensions between the Chinese and the whites, and the descriptions of the area. The writer was able to make the reader feel like they were walking down the streets of Chinatown. However, Anna Blanc is another story. I know that she is supposed to be a former rich debutante who has been disowned by her father, but she has to be one of the dumbest supposed detectives to ever grace the pages of a book! Some of the scenes were just too overboard in describing her clothing, her mannerisms, etc. I understand that the author was trying to convey how much of a fish out of water that she is, but enough is enough! Much of the action is just too unbelievable for me to swallow. How many times does a young woman venture into the dangers of Chinatown alone, putting her life at risk, before she learns that isn't a good idea? And, her on again, off again love affair with Joe was drawn out throughout the entire book to the point that I really didn't care what happened. In my opinion, the book could have been condensed a lot without losing any of the story. I sped up my Kindle a lot in order to get through the book faster because I started getting bored with the repetitious nature of the story. The narrator, Moira Quirk, does a great job and kept me listening long past what I would have done with a lesser narrator. All in all, not a bad book, but not a great book. I would recommend it for those who truly love a bumbling MC who cares more about her appearance than a good mystery or main characters with in-depth personalities. I was given the opportunity to listen to the Audible version of this book by the narrator/publisher/author and chose to review it.

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  • 02-16-20

The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

The Story: Anna Blanc is back and I was loving the fact that she is still the same old Anne we met in the Secret Life of Anna Blanc. She is now living on her own after her father found out various misgivings from the last book, but in all honesty this has been great for her and allowed her to bloom. This story centres around a murder in Chinatown, that Anna somehow managed to get involved in to help solve. There were time that I forgot that we were in the early 1900's as Anna is easily ahead of the times and it was great to see her being so progressive. Jennifer Kincheloe has done a great job of bringing history and fiction to life with this story. The Narration: Once again Moira Quirk really brings Anna Blanc to life with this book. She does a great job at all the accents - this story centres around a murder in Chinatown so at first I wasn't sure how the accents would play out, but Moira nailed them and made then authentic. The production was once again flawless and engaging.