Set in 1914 New Jersey, the three Kopp sisters are considered a bit of an oddity in that they live alone on a farm in the countryside (three woman living by themselves, the horror!). Middle sister Constance Kopp keeps a close eye on the family’s dwindling savings as she fends off her brother’s threats to make the sisters move in with him so they can have a proper male guardian. Her older sister, Norma, draws into her pigeon-keeping habit while the youngest, 18-year-old Fleurette, dreams of becoming an actress while finessing her sewing skills.
Their world is turned upside down when while driving their horse and buggy into town, they are hit at an intersection by a local silk factory owner irresponsibly driving a motorcar. When Constance dares to get reparation for damages from the powerful factor owner Henry Kaufman, he unleashes a dangerous campaign against all three of the Kopp sisters, ranging from threatening letters, gunshots in the night, and bricks thrown through windows. Despite roadblocks and cautions that a simple woman can’t possibly take on a powerful silk baron, Constance teams up with Sheriff Heath to expose Kaufman’s unethical practices within his factories and against her family.
Intertwined in the main conflict is the tale of how the three sisters came to live an isolated life in the country in the first place, including a mystery about Fleurette’s true parentage and her relationship to her sisters. This pain hidden in her past pushes Constance to help find the child of one of Kaufman’s factory workers, who was lost as a “strike orphan” in New York a year beforehand.
Girl Waits With Gun is based on a true story and is pulled straight from the headlines of the day. Shortly after the events related in the book, the real Constance Kopp became the first female police deputy in the United States. Constance Kopp emerges as an unlikely voice for the underprivileged before such movements were established, fighting for equal rights of women, of workers, and those that had so little agency in 1914.
Lucky for everyone who discovers this wonderful book, there are three more books in the series, all of which are held at Billings Public Library. Following Girl Waits With Gun, you can check out Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, and Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit. I’ll definitely be reading through the series as fast as I can to discover the further adventures of the Kopp sisters. -Carla
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