Philadelphia, June 1780. George Washington’s two least likely spies return, masquerading as husband and wife as they search for traitors in Philadelphia.
Months have passed since young widow Becca Parcell and former printer Daniel Alloway foiled a plot that threatened the new nation. But independence is still a distant dream, and General Washington can’t afford more unrest, not with food prices rising daily and the value of money falling just as fast.
At the General’s request, Becca and Daniel travel to Philadelphia to track down traitors who are flooding the city with counterfeit money. Searching for clues, Becca befriends the wealthiest women in town, the members of the Ladies Association of Philadelphia, while Daniel seeks information from the city’s printers.
But their straightforward mission quickly grows personal and deadly as a half-remembered woman from Becca’s childhood is arrested for murdering one of the suspected counterfeiters.
With time running out-and their faux marriage breaking apart-Becca and Daniel find themselves searching for a hate-driven villain who’s ready to kill again.
Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.
When the leader of your fledgling country’s military asks you to find the source of counterfeit money in Philadelphia, you’ll do it. And if you need to tell a few lies, maybe you’ll hesitate a little but you’ll still acquiesce. After all, he’s George Washington and the two of you are an escaped prisoner-of-war patriot and the widow of a spy. You just don’t expect mutual attraction and miscommunication to come between the two of you and hinder your quest as well.
The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker is the second of her Revolutionary War Mysteries. I haven’t read the first, The Turncoat, but didn’t feel I was at a disadvantage. Becker starts the book after Becca and Daniel have begun their assignment, so we don’t get much information about how it came about, or how they initially felt about being paired with each other and posing as a married couple. The opening scene shows an unidentified man discovering a dead body, along with a pouch full of money. From there, readers are immediately taken to a soiree and are shown that Becca is uncomfortable with toasts to George Washington and liberty. Is she a loyalist or a patriot?
The plot continues at a fast pace, with surprises around almost every corner. Becker includes a number of characters from various walks of life, including slaves, publicans, and gentry, and also historical figures such as Sally Franklin and Martha Washington. Eighteenth century Philadelphia is shown in all its contrasts: from the wealthy to the poor, from beautiful homes to river docks and warehouses, and the differences in how loyalists and patriots are treated. This is a time and setting where gossip is rife, and suspicion is everywhere. Did I guess who the murderer was of the dead man at the start of the novel? Actually, no. There were, after all, several possible candidates. As for the relationship between Becca and Daniel, it felt like a case of two steps forward and one step back. Much of the fault for that, it has to be said, lies with Becca.
Will there be a third installment of these Revolutionary War Mysteries? Given how The Counterfeit Wife concludes, with certain situations seemingly resolved, it’s hard to say. If there is another, however, it won’t be one I’ll say no to reading.
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: 20 September 2022
Mally Becker combines her love of history and crime fiction in mysteries that feature strong, independent heroines. Her debut novel, The Turncoat’s Widow, was nominated for an Agatha Award and named a Killer Nashville Silver Falchion finalist. Kirkus Reviews called it, “A compelling tale … with charming main characters.” Published in September 2022, The Counterfeit Wife is the second book in Mally’s Revolutionary War mystery series. She is at work on the third installment.
A member of the board of MWA-NY, Mally was an attorney until becoming a full-time writer. She and her husband live in New Jersey, where they raised their wonderful son.
Mally Becker’s website: https://www.mallybecker.com