1. It probes the fallout of World War II.
2. "Gay and lesbian" in a time much less welcoming than today gives it flavor.
3. In spite of my personal frustration with the writing style, it's got strength and power and I suspect Copenhaver will be writing good mysteries in years to come. So it's important to grab his debut for your shelf.
I also really like the title, which is a play on words between some criminal threats, and film-based photography speak.
Here's the jacket blurb, in case you're thinking this over:
A lurid crime scene photo of a beautiful woman arrives on mystery writer Bunny Prescott's doorstep with no return address―and it's not the first time she's seen it. The reemergence of the photo, taken fifty-five years earlier, sets her on a journey to reconstruct the vicious summer that changed her life.PS: Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.
In the summer of 1945, Ceola Bliss is a lonely twelve-year-old tomboy, mourning the loss of her brother, Robbie, who was declared missing in the Pacific. She tries to piece together his life by rereading his favorite pulp detective story “A Date with Death” and spending time with his best friend, Jay Greenwood, in Royal Oak, VA. One unforgettable August day, Jay leads Ceola and Bunny to a stretch of woods where he found a dead woman, but when they arrive, the body is gone. They soon discover a local woman named Lily Vellum is missing and begin to piece together the threads of her murder, starting with the photograph Jay took of her abandoned body.
As Ceola gets swept up playing girl detective, Bunny becomes increasingly skeptical of Jay’s story about the photograph and begins her own investigation into Lily’s murder. A series of clues lead her to Washington, DC, where she must confront the truth about her dear friend—a revelation that triggers a brutal confrontation that will change all of them forever.