Review of The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur
The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur by Charlene Bell Dietz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beth is a research scientist at a for profit lab in Denver whose lab rats are mysteriously dying, potentially ending any chances that she will be able to complete her research. Beth is sure that somebody has been sabotaging her research but can't seem to get anybody else to believe her, not even her husband Harold. Dealing with the loss of her research and a potential saboteur is stressful enough, but Beth also must take care of her aging Aunt Kathleen, a chain-smoking, "independent" woman who Beth barely knows, and whose insistence on not needing any help causes more problems for Beth. When a fire forces Kathleen to move in with Beth and Harold, Beth must try to balance caring for her Aunt and keeping peace with her husband, all while trying to find out who is sabotaging experiments at the research lab.
Charlene Bell Dietz has crafted a wonderfully complex story. Beth is a great character, a strong woman who is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious incidents and deaths that have been happening at the research lab. She manages to do all of this while also balancing the complex things going on in her personal life. As the story progresses we learn more and more about Aunt Kathleen and her life as a "dancer" in 1920's Chicago. Kathleen is a strong-willed, independent woman and it's interesting to see the parallels in the characters (even if Beth may not). At the same time Beth and Harold seem to polar opposites - she is driven and dedicated to her job, he is bored with his job and wants to quit and travel. They can't seem to get over the small problems, and Beth is frustrated that Harold does not seem to support her in her career choice or in her attempt to find the saboteur. But Charlene does an excellent job of weaving Kathleen into their lives, providing anecdotes, advice (and cuba libres) that help Beth and Harold better understand each other. Through it all the family drama the threat of the saboteur looms before Beth, and her methodical and persistent pursuit of this threat makes Beth a powerful character.
highly recommend The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur. While not filled with a lot of action, it is detailed and entertaining. Charlene expertly weaves the problems of work and family into a compelling story.