Girl Waits with Gun

by Amy Stewart

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544800830
  • ISBN-10: 0544800834
  • Pages: 448
  • Publication Date: 05/03/2016
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book
    A National Bestseller 

    New York Times Editors' Choice 

    A September 2015 Indie Next Pick 

    A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter 

    One of USA Today's "New and Noteworthy" 

    One of New York Post's "Must-Read" Books 

    One of Cosmopolitan's "24 Books to Read this Fall" 

     

    From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs. 

     

    Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. 

     

    “A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness.” — Elizabeth Gilbert 

     

    Check out the brand-new Kopp sisters adventure Lady Copy Makes Trouble available now!

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. The Archduke of Austria had just been assassinated, the Mexicans were revolting, and absolutely nothing was happening at our house, which explains why all three of us were riding to Paterson on the most trivial of errands. Never had a larger committee been convened to make a decision about the purchase of mustard powder and the replacement of a claw hammer whose handle had split from age and misuse.

     

    Against my better judgment I allowed Fleurette to drive. Norma was reading to us from the newspaper as she always did.

     

    “‘Man’s Trousers Cause Death,’ ” Norma called out.

     

    “It doesn’t say that.” Fleurette snorted and turned around to get a look at the paper. The reins slid out of her hands.

     

    “It does,” Norma said. “It says that a Teamster was in the habit of hanging his trousers over the gas jet at night but, being under the influence of liquor, didn’t notice that the trousers smothered the flame.”

     

    “Then he died of gas poisoning, not of trousers.” 

     

    “Well, the trousers —” 

     

    The low, goosey cry of a horn interrupted Norma. I turned just in time to see a black motor car barreling toward us, tearing down Hamilton and picking up speed as it crossed the intersection. Fleurette jumped up on the footboard to wave the driver off. 

     

    “Get down!” I shouted, but it was too late. 

     

    The automobile hit us broadside, its brakes shrieking. The sound of our buggy shattering was like a firecracker going off in our ears. We tumbled over in a mess of splintered wood and bent metal. Our harness mare, Dolley, faltered and went down with us. She let out a high scream, the likes of which I had never heard from a horse. 

     

    Something heavy pinned my shoulder. I reached around and found it was Norma’s foot. “You’re standing on me!” 

     

    “I am not. I can’t even see you,” Norma said. 

     

    Our wagon rocked back and forth as the motor car reversed its engine and broke free of the wreckage. I was trapped under the overturned rear seat. It was as dark as a coffin, but there was a dim shape below me that I believed to be Fleurette’s arm. I didn’t dare move for fear of crushing her. 

     

    From the clamor around us, I gathered that someone was trying to rock the wagon and get it upright. “Don’t!” I yelled. “My sister’s under the wheel.” If the wheel started to turn, she’d be caught up in it. 

     

    A pair of arms the size of tree branches reached into the rubble and got hold of Norma. “Take your hands off me!” she shouted. 

     

    “He’s trying to get you out,” I called. With a grunt, she accepted the man’s help. Norma hated to be manhandled. 

     

    Once she was free, I climbed out behind her. The man attached to the enormous arms wore an apron covered in blood. For one terrible second, I thought it was ours, then I realized he was a butcher at the meat counter across the street. 

     

    He wasn’t the only one who had come running out when the automobile hit us. We were surrounded by store clerks, locksmiths, grocers, delivery boys, shoppers — in fact, most of the stores on Market Street had emptied, their occupants drawn to the spectacle we were now providing. Most of them watched from the sidewalk, but a sizable contingent surrounded the motor car, preventing its escape. 

     

    The butcher and a couple of men from the print shop, their hands black with ink, helped us raise the wagon just enough to allow Fleurette to slide clear of the wheel. As we lifted the broken panels off her, Fleurette stared up at us with wild dark eyes. She wore a dress sheathed in pink taffeta. Against the dusty road she looked like a trampled bed of roses. 

     

    “Don’t move,” I whispered, bending over her, but she got her arms underneath herself and sat up. 

     

    “No, no, no,” said one of the printers. “We’ll call for a doctor.” 

     

    I looked up at the men standing in a circle around us. 

     

    “She’ll be fine,” I said, sliding a hand over her ankle. “Go on.” Some of those men looked a little too eager to help with the examination of Fleurette’s legs. They shuffled off to help two livery drivers, who had disembarked from their own wagons to tend to our mare. 

     

    They freed her from the harness and she struggled to stand. The poor creature groaned and tossed her head and blew steam from her nostrils. The drivers fed her something from their pockets and that seemed to settle her. 

     

    I gave Fleurette’s calf a squeeze. She howled and jerked away from me. 

     

    “Is it broken?” she asked. 

     

    I couldn’t say. “Try to move it.” 

     

    She screwed her face into a knot, held her breath, and gingerly bent one leg and then the other. When she was finished she let her breath go all at once and looked up at me, panting. 

     

    “That’s good,” I said. “Now move your ankles and your toes.” 

     

    We both looked down at her feet. She was wearing the most ridiculous white calfskin boots with pink ribbons for laces. 

     

    “Are they all right?” she asked. 

     

    I put my hand on her back to steady her. “Just try to move them. First your ankle.” 

     

    “I meant the boots.” 

     

    That’s when I knew Fleurette would survive. I unlaced the boots and promised to look after them. A much larger crowd had gathered, and Fleurette wiggled her pale-stockinged toes for her new audience. 

     

    “You’ll have quite a bruise tomorrow, miss,” said a lady behind us. 

     

    The seat that had trapped me a few moments ago was resting on the ground. I helped Fleurette into it and took another look at her legs. Her stockings were torn and she was scratched and bruised, but not broken to bits as I’d feared. I offered my handkerchief to press against one long and shallow cut along her ankle, but she’d already lost interest in her own injuries. 

     

    “Look at Norma,” she whispered with a wicked little smile. My sister had planted herself directly in the path of the motor car to prevent the men from driving away. She did make a comical sight, a small but stocky figure in her split riding skirt of drab cotton. Norma had the broad Slavic face and thick nose of our father and our mother’s sour disposition. Her mouth was set in a permanent frown and she looked on everyone with suspicion. She stared down the driver of the motor car with the kind of flat-footed resolve that came naturally to her in times of calamity. 

     

    The automobilist was a short but solidly built young man who had an overfed look about him, hinting at a privileged life. He would have been handsome if not for an indolent and spoiled aspect about his eyes and the tough set of his mouth, which suggested he was accustomed to getting his way. His face was puffy and red from the heat, but also, I suspected, from a habit of putting away a quart of beer at breakfast and a bottle of wine at night. He was dressed exceedingly well, in striped linen trousers, a silk waistcoat with polished br...

  • Reviews
    A National Indie Bestseller 

    A New York Times Editors' Choice 

    A September 2015 Indie Next Pick 

    One of People's "Best Books of the Fall" 

    One of the Washington Post's "Notable Fiction Books of 2015" 

    One of USA Today's "New and Noteworthy" 

    One of New York Post's "Must-Read" Books 

    One of Cosmopolitan's "24 New Books to Read this Fall" 

    One of Paste Magazine's "15 of the Best New Books in September 2015" 

    A Publishers Weekly "Best Book of 2015" 

    One of BookPage's "Best Books of 2015" 

    One of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's "Best Books of 2015" 

    A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter 

     

    "Constance Kopp, the feisty heroine of Amy Stewart’s charming novel “Girl Waits With Gun,” sounds like the creation of a master crime writer. At nearly 6 feet tall, Constance is a formidable character who can pack heat, deliver a zinger and catch a criminal without missing a beat. Based on the little-known story of the real Constance Kopp, one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs, the novel is an entertaining and enlightening story of how far one woman will go to protect her family." —Washington Post  

     

    “Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel...The sisters’ personalities flower under Stewart’s pen, contributing happy notes of comedy to a terrifying situation...And then there is Constance: Sequestered for years in the country and cowed by life, she develops believably into a woman who comes into herself, discovering powers long smothered under shame and resignation. I, for one, would like to see her return to wield them again in further installments.”—New York Times Book Review 

     

    "The Kopps are the stars of Stewart's new zippy, winsome novel, Girl Waits With Gun. Filled with historical detail without being weighed down by it, the novel is a cinematic story of the women, the siege instigated by their powerful enemy, and their brave efforts in the face of real violence."—Los Angeles Times

      

    "This rollicking western about a woman who'll do anything to save her family is based on the true tale of one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs." —People Magazine

     

    “This historical novel by the bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist stars an unforgettable, not-to-be-messed-with heroine – one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs. It all begins circa 1910 when an earnest request entangles a family with the town thug. The rest is kickass history.”—Marie Claire 

     

    "Stewart gives us three sisters whose bond — scratchy and well-worn but stronger for it, as can happen with family ties — is unspoken but effortless. Girl Waits With Gun might sometimes be a story in which truth is stranger than fiction, but it also makes for pretty charming fiction."—NPR 

     

    "Fans of strong female characters will find their new favorite heroine in Constance Kopp, who takes a bold stand against a gang that is threatening her family. Debut novelist Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun is a historical thrill ride, racing through funny, tragic, and terrifying scenes. Even better, it's based on the true story of one of the United States' first female deputy sheriffs and her brave, amazing sisters."—Cosmopolitan, "24 New Books to Read this Fall" 

     

    "Amy Stewart uses her skills as a researcher to lovingly excavate the wonderful, entirely forgotten story of the Kopp sisters, who briefly dominated East Coast newspaper headlines a century ago...Constance, Norma, and Fleurette live on a New Jersey farm, scraping by without too much difficulty until a road accident entangles them with a crooked silk manufacturer, who begins to harass them – possibly with the help of the Black Hand gang. It’s Constance’s doughty response that gives the book its title, and also its delightful verve...[Stewart's] created several memorable characters here, in particular Constance, who, enterprising and independent but with a closely guarded sorrow in her past, seems like an American answer to Maisie Dobbs."—USA Today 

     

    "Well-written with sharply drawn characters and the occasional plot twist, Girl Waits With Gun is an absorbing throwback to a bygone era."Associated Press 

     

    "[A] confident, charming, sure-footed debut — a fresh, winning and delightful mystery with a warm heart, impish humor and a heroine who quietly shatters convention."—Dallas Morning News 

     

    "If fictional accounts of real women are your thing, then settle in with Girl Waits With Gun and you won't be let down. Amy Stewart recreates one of the world's first female deputy sheriffs, set in the early 1900s, and you will be cheering Constance Kopp on through every page. The race to catch a murderer is thrilling in itself, but the powerful woman driving the book is what will really keep readers turning pages!"—Bustle, "11 Smart Books to Read if You Love Thrillers" 

     

    “Thrilling… iveting and great fun… The blend of historical fiction with this true-life story is ingenious and makes Stewart’s book a pleasure to read. The Kopp sisters are not shy and shrinking violets and the author’s style is just as bold.”—Cowgirl Magazine 

     

    "Girl Waits with Gun [successfully] mines the life of Constance Kopp and the fascinating, riveting, and almost-lost sliver of history that bears her stamp."—Paste Magazine 

     

    "[A] marvellous romp."—The Guardian 

     

    "Through painstaking attention to detail, Stewart has created an elegant, moving narrative of an unusual real-life woman who dared defy the odds to ensure the safety of her family." —BookPage 

     

    "It's set in 1914, but its heroine, Constance Kopp, feels about 100 years more modern as she boldly takes on a gang hellbent on destroying her family."—Glamour 

     

    "The author of The Drunken Botanist turns to fiction with this lighthearted novel about America's first deputy sheriff, the real-life Constance Kopp, who with her sisters Norma and Fleurette pursued criminals in Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 20th century. Stewart stumbled on the Kopps' story in a 1914 newspaper clipping and says she knew she had to write about them."—Newsday, "What's New" 

     

    "Constance Kopp is no Nancy Drew. One of the country’s first female detectives and the subject of bestselling author Amy Stewart’s new novel, Girl Waits with Gun, Kopp is a gun-toting gal plagued by a family secret. Expect a highly willful protagonist penned with the utmost historical accuracy."—San Francisco Magazine 

     

    "Laugh out loud [funny].&...