Synopsis from Goodreads: In her fourth novel Joanne Dahme creates another page-turning tale in which a young woman named Rose strives to rid Philadelphia’s water of the deadly typhoid bacteria. Set in the late 19th century, Rose Dugan is a young wife who is actively involved in her community. But when her best friend is killed while working at Philadelphia’s Water Works’ gardens, the mystery around her death pulls Rose in. Will she save the city from a deadly typhoid outbreak that is threatening the city’s water system? Will Rose unravel the mystery behind her best friend’s murder—a fate that was actually meant for her?
If you are looking for a creepy Halloween read, look no further. Contagion is the perfect mix of history and mystery.
The first thing that drew me into this book was the setting. I spent much of my childhood visiting parks in Philadelphia so I could imagine the places described and air of the novel. Historically based novels are fascinating to me.
The main heroine is Rose, a young girl of 18 who is forced to grow up quickly she and her 25 year old husband are left without parents. Both are passed control of the family business. However, husband Patrick is a power hungry contractor who just keeps looking more sinister and slimy as the plot unravels. He’s one you’re going to loathe.
As the city of Philadelphia battles with numerous outbreaks of Typhoid the suspense and political mudslinging between Patrick and his competitors begins to increase. There are so many subplots going on, it feels like a cross between Sherlock Holmes, Clue and a creepy BBC mystery show I used to watch as a kid. But I just couldn’t put this book down!
I had a couple of distractions due to typos and punctuation problems in the finished copy. And, it bothered me that there is romance blooming between a married woman and widowed man…no matter the circumstances.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and all the work put in to making it solid historically. The author is versed in water issues and she explores the logistics of it with ease and in a way that is not boring for teens.
Contagion is a page turner with a twisty plot and rich descriptions. I’d say pick it up and give it a try for a night with all the lights on! Check out other titles by Joanne Dahm on Goodreads.