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Free Love    by Annette Meyers order for
Free Love
by Annette Meyers
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 1999 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Free Love marks quite a departure for Meyers from her Smith and Wetzon mystery series about a team of executive head-hunters who keep discovering crimes among the financial doings on Wall Street. Annette Meyers is also the co-author, with her husband Martin Meyers, of a historical series set in early 1600's New Amsterdam (today's Manhattan). One senses that this book is closer to her heart with its 1920's Greenwich Village setting (where Meyers and her husband live today).

Her heroine is the free-spirited poet Olivia Brown whose life and occupation are loosely based on the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Greenwich Village in the 1920's was similar to Paris in the years after World War I when young artists and writers, perhaps as a reaction to the horrors of war, escaped into a Bohemian life. Olivia, after losing all her family members and her fiancee to either the war or the 1918 influenza pandemic, has come from upstate New York to live in a house bequeathed her by a great-aunt. Olivia changes from a proper small town young woman to a self-described 'good-time girl with an intellect' who calls herself Oliver. Oliver is a very talented poet who becomes involved with in the intellectual circles in the Village and begins living a very different life with much drinking, carousing and the free love of the title.

Of course, this being a mystery, she stumbles on a body of a woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to herself. Subsequently, she becomes the target of several threats and decides to investigate the murder along with her lodger, a middle-aged, somewhat seedy private detective, who has connections to the Village underworld. When additional murders of people in her circle occur this gives her a greater sense of urgency. Free Love depicts a somewhat decadent world of self-centered young people with an almost incestuous connection to each other. Although the reader may not want to inhabit this world, she will be fascinated by it and, in particular, by Oliver whose spirit is charming. The author includes many of Oliver's poems and gives an interesting perspective on how her creativity and talent drive and almost possess her.

Free Love is a welcome introduction of a very different kind of detective to a field of often indistinguishable sleuths. Meyer's next Olivia / Oliver Brown book, Murder Me Now, is due in February 2002.

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