“The Woman in the Camphor Trunk” by Jennifer Kincheloe


By Jennifer Kincheloe

Chinatown is the scene for this absolutely terrific book. It is the year 1908, in Los Angeles, when a body is discovered inside a trunk that resides in the apartment of the corpse’s lover. This scares the police more than anything else, seeing as that this Caucasian missionary female is the victim and her Chinese boyfriend is the only suspect. The L.A. police are more than frightened that a race war could begin.

It is Anna Blanc, Police Matron, and her former boyfriend, Detective Joe Singer, who discover the body that had been pushed into the trunk. They’re aware that if this news gets out—that a white woman was killed in Chinatown—that bad times will come. So not only must they solve the crime, but they have to keep it a secret from a whole lot of nosey people. Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese member of the community is having mixed feelings about helping the Los Angeles Police Dept. and is not keen on working with Anna.

As this is taking place, the Chinese Hop Sing tong has taken two slave girls from another group calling themselves the Bing Kong. Because of this event, a tong war is also about to break out that would just about kill everyone in Chinatown. And even though Joe orders Anna to get out of town for her own safety, Anna opts to stay and solve the crime.

So who dies and who lives? Can a race war, as well as an inner-city tong war be stopped? Readers will love the fact that Anna is absolutely fearless when it comes to her oath and her job, and well ahead of her time. They will also admire the love/hate relationship Anna has with her partner. It is safe to say that Jennifer Kincheloe is a wonderful storyteller with great tales to tell.

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