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Cover Reveal, Pre-order Launch and Review for Historium Press author Roberta Tracy - "Zig Zag Woman"

Historium Press release "Zig Zag Woman" by Roberta Tracy cover

Book Blurb:

The last thing LAPD Detectives McManus and Tyson expect to find behind Pantages Theatre is a body rolled up in a blanket.

The last thing Margaret Morehouse, one of the city's first policewoman with arrest powers, expects to do is join the investigation. When a deadly explosion at the L. A. Times derails their efforts, Margaret finds herself at a crossroads and strikes out on her own, a path leading to delusion and self-discovery on a vaudeville stage. Her husband's nephew Leland further complicates the situation by sharing a ransom note and confiding his failure to report his wife's disappearance the Dominguez Air Meet.


A brief stint as a magician's assistant takes Margaret to Chicago, where she almost signs on as a zig zag girl, the term used for ladies performing in the "cutting-a-woman-in-two" illusion. Instead, Margaret returns to the tumultuous world of early twentieth century Los Angeles. Reunited with McManus and Tyson, she confronts prejudices and societal norms in efforts to identify a body, clear Leland's name, and topple the stranglehold one powerful, amoral person has over many lives. Their efforts lead to dead ends and misconceptions before truth comes to light. Love is rekindled and danger uncovered in unlikely places. Margaret goes from Zig Zag Girl to Zig Zag Woman, no longer cut in two but headed on a clearer path.

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Author Bio:

Historium Press author Roberta Tracey author picture

Early experience as a staff greeting card writer introduced Roberta Tracy to witty people who shared the writer’s dream. Marriage, motherhood, and career intervened, but she maintained that creative desire. A degree in nonprofit management led her to work situations where newsletters, grant proposals, and business correspondence took precedence. Still, she wrote poetry, some of which won prizes and publication, and children’s books set in worldwide locations. Recently, she co-authored Come Dream With Me, a part travelogue, part hippie nostalgia work of creative nonfiction, detailing the adventures of colleague Inese Civkulis. No matter what writing projects unfold in the future, she'll never find enough words to thank family and friends for their inspiration and encouragement.

Editorial Review:

With a tense opening in the captivating pages of "Zig Zag Woman," the reader is immersed

in the tumultuous world of early 20th-century Los Angeles. Detective McManus's

account, excerpted from the official Los Angeles Police Department log from September

1910, unveils a gripping tale of crime, mystery, and the unexpected discovery of a brutally

mutilated body. As the story unfolds, Margaret Morehouse becomes a central figure, her life

intricately woven into the history of a city grappling with scandals, social upheaval, and the

looming threat of two bombs. Against the backdrop of public scrutiny and personal

challenges, Margaret's journey becomes a fascinating exploration of tradition, identity, and

an unwavering quest for justice.

Despite public pressures and personal challenges, Margaret Morehouse remains grounded

in a period when the LAPD is under intense public scrutiny:

When an officer mistook a child for a hardened criminal and shot him in the back, eager

reporters scooped the story. The department issued a formal statement declaring the boy to

be "large for his age" without one word of apology. [...] Never before had such titillating tales

appeared as front-page news, and the public wanted more. Although a spokesman from the

mayor's office labeled the stories and banner headlines “salacious muckraking,” complaints

amplified into moral outcry throughout every level of local society. ”

R. Tracy explores the evolution of women in early 20th-century Los Angeles, with Margaret

Morehouse at the forefront. She confronts prejudices and societal norms, symbolizing a

woman determined to chart her own destiny in a rigid world. Despite doubts and questions

about societal expectations, Margaret carves her path in society, from formal education to

the decision to join the police force.

The novel highlights Margaret's efforts to overcome constraints imposed by the conventions

of the time, with a past marked by her mother's attempts to conform her to norms. Her

resolve to enter the Police Department becomes evident at a crucial moment when she

receives guidance and a first aid kit from Captain Hiram Clarke. Starting her career in a

male-dominated field, Margaret becomes a symbol of change and resistance.

However, Margaret's courageous determination foreshadows future threats, and the

unsettling encounter with Captain Hiram Clarke hints at a life marked by crime and

deception. In her unexpected journey, Margaret confronts her own shortcomings in dealing

with male authority, highlighted in her dialogues with colleague Alice. The novel subtly

explores the nuances of the struggle for affirmation in a gender-polarized society.

Alice, a woman with experience and determination, becomes an unexpected mentor for

Margaret, sharing from her own experiences. Their discussions reveal an interesting

dynamic of mutual learning and trust-building. While these two women strive to find their

voices in a male-dominated world, they begin to understand that mutual support and

confidence in their own abilities are key to success in a hostile environment.

Margaret finds herself in a world that tests her limits and determination, both professionally

and personally. The time spent with Mary Ellen's family deepens Margaret's connection to

the profound aspects of life, truths, and responsibilities that she did not perceive clearly


Mary Ellen’s loving common sense had been handed down through generations. Hers was

the wisdom of the hearth, necessary skills to care for her brood. ”

While watching the children being put to bed, Margaret witnesses the signs of life they bring

into the house - scratches testifying to childhood mischief, yet everything polished and

erased with love. The conversation with Mary Ellen reveals her perspective on motherhood,

with its joys and challenges. Margaret feels the gentle touch of Michael's skin, a moment

when she begins to understand the weight and responsibility that come with motherhood.

Margaret faces an unexpected threat in her home when a lead ball is thrown onto the porch.

The indifferent reaction of her husband and friend amplifies the mystery. Determined,

Margaret begins to investigate the signs that her life and mission in the LAPD are in danger.

The captivating novel brings disturbing revelations about the alleged kidnapping of Leland's

wife, creating a dark and tense atmosphere. Margaret, with her determination and

intelligence, takes control and engages in solving the mystery, and unexpected elements,

such as a strand of hair and a ransom note, add complexity and risk to the intrigue.

In the continuation of this suspenseful and captivating story, Cushman and Margaret meet

with the detectives in a park near the station. McManus's imposing presence and the

stiffness he mimics accentuate the tense atmosphere. Tyson, impatient, tests his olfactory

skills, and the exchange of opinions begins with adventures in Chicago. However, the

conversation quickly becomes tense once the guilt or innocence of Leland Morehouse is


In this intriguing story, Margaret expresses her anger at the detectives who have taken her

nephew captive, questioning the credibility of their assumptions. Debates with Detective

Tyson bring up the hypothesis that Leland might be involved and may have fabricated a

story to cover his tracks, but Margaret rejects this idea, asserting that Leland was genuinely

concerned. Despite doubts, she decides to visit Leland to uncover the truth.

The story continues to reveal mystery and tension in Margaret's life, and news about

Leland's case shifts perspectives. The discovery of a manipulated bank note suggests a

possible conspiracy against Leland, and the tense relationship between Margaret and the

detectives adds complexity to the situation. In parallel, the story intertwines with another

morbid case, that of Pantages, bringing a dose of darkness and mystery. Margaret, with

wisdom and tenacity, confronts the harsh realities to uncover the truth.

The complex relationship between Edmund and Margaret unfolds in moments of intimacy as

they deal with the personal belongings of the missing wife. Yvette's haute couture,

juxtaposed with Margaret's conflicting feelings, creates an atmosphere of melancholy and

loss: “Margaret laid out the haute couture clothes across her dining room table. Seed pearls held

fast to the embroidered bodice and the blue satin sash was still bright, but the flat ensemble

looked crumpled and forlorn. Who else would wear so much finery to an airfield? Margaret

wondered, hoping if Yvette was still breathing, she’d shed her haughty attitudes along with the


The revelation of a mysterious object and malevolent threats intensify the danger in the

story. The journey with Elvira brings manipulation and mystery, putting Margaret to the test.

In the light of these events, Margaret faces difficult choices, and plans for a trip to San

Bernardino add a new intriguing element. The suspense persists, captivating the reader in a

whirlwind of questions and revelations.

Thus ends this fascinating odyssey, full of dramatic twists and surprising disclosures.

Margaret, with her characteristic courage, confronts challenges and engages in the search

for truth, highlighting complex characters and the mystery of a tumultuous era.

The ending brings balance to the lives of the characters, offering moments of happiness for

the Morehouse family and individual accomplishments. The complex plot resolves

satisfactorily, concluding a memorable literary journey.

Margaret chooses to continue in investigations, showcasing her passion. Relationships

evolve, and the love between Yvette and Leland becomes enduring. Edmund remains the

defender of the poor. Changes in Los Angeles and society are reflected in Elvira's influence.

The misery of Parlor House Horror is left behind, and Edmund, McManus, and Tyson bring

positive changes.

And so, Margaret went from Zig Zag girl to Zig Zag woman, no longer cut in two but headed

on a clearer path. At first, the office was little more than a furnished space where she kept

one eye on the front door, hoping for trade, and the other on her child. Alice Wells dropped

by on occasion. Any worries she’d had about Margaret were long gone and each found in

the other a forthright, intelligent friend.”

The recovery of Cushman and the confrontation with Elvira reveal dark sides of society.

Optimism and the power to overcome obstacles define the ending, providing the satisfaction

that all threads have been tied, and the characters have found happiness in 20th-century

Los Angeles.


“Zig Zag Woman” by Roberta Tracy receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


HFC Highly Recommended Award of Excellence


To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit


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