And here it comes. Friends told me they saw my next book is already listed on Amazon and available for pre-ordering. WHAT? I didn’t know it was there. Nor did I know the actual publication date until I found the listing. It is just a little more than five months away—August 8th.
I knew the book would be released during the summer, but I wasn’t sure when. Now I know! And that date is coming fast!
The Girls Who Fought Crime is the second in the Girls series. This isn’t a military book or even solely a wartime story. It is the story of Mary “Mae” Foley’s journey as a young Irish girl growing up in New York City at the turn of the 20th century.
The city was in the throes of dealing with a massive influx of immigrants while transforming itself from the stilted social mores of the Victorian age into a modern metropolis. Mae found herself teetering on that cusp of change and plunged headlong into the challenges of helping those new arrivals adjust to American life.
Right out of high school, she took a series of social work-related jobs, all bent on providing assistance and services to the legions of newcomers swarming into her city. It wasn’t much of a leap from there to put on a uniform, and by 1915 she was one of the nearly 2,000 women to serve in the Women’s Police Reserve.
They were an auxiliary organization, and their focus on community support—helping keep the peace, getting runaway girls off the street, helping women in trouble, finding lost children, and more—made a huge difference to the quality of life for New Yorkers during the years of the First World War.
Mae’s husband, John, later became a private detective. In 1923, she left her two young daughters at home and proudly became a sworn police officer in the New York Police Department.
She wasn’t alone. Hundreds of other young women were looking for a good job—a way to make a difference—and finding a calling and a home in the company of their sisters and brothers in blue instead.
She loved police work. She wasn’t there to put the force in law enforcement. She saw herself as putting the human face on policing. Her focus was on the vulnerable, the at-risk, and the victims.
In her twenty-two years on the force, Mae saw and did it all. She worked the Masher Squad–protecting the public from men who were bent on assault or theft, tracked down bootleggers during Prohibition, served as bait for a serial killer, and one particularly long assignment, she managed and led the protection detail for all the witnesses in two sensational mob trials. Later she went undercover to collect intelligence on the American Nazi movement in New York and spent the years of World War II investigating sabotage and reports of infiltrators.
Hers was an amazing journey, a big life encompassing the values of public service, and personal sacrifice. Her only indulgence was the occasional ocean cruise for the purposes of rest, recreation, and enjoying just a tiny bit of a luxurious escape.
Here’s hoping you will want to meet her soon, as well as her colleagues, her children, and her legacy—what she made of it all.
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