The Longer the Thread – Emma Lathen
The 13th mystery starring series hero John Putnam Thatcher was published in 1971 by two business women who wrote under a pen name. Thatcher, a middle-aged financier on Wall Street, must visit his bank’s Puerto Rico branch, which is concerned about problems at an investment, a large garment maker. The backdrop of Puerto Rico provides social and political conflict between those who want Puerto Rico to be independent versus those who want the special status with the US to continue as usual.
The garment maker’s factory has seen sabotage of finished goods and machines. A foreman – an obnoxious bad actor who was enjoying the trouble (we all know such people at work) – is shot to death. The main suspects are the gringo managers of the plant, which sparks talks of strikes. The factory owner calls in a union organizer, a tough woman negotiator, a character for which the book is worth reading for the authoresses’ early feminist views (that anybody can make success from clear thinking and having a clear-cut goals). Thatcher investigates the murder and sabotage, but arrives at the conclusion mainly by thinking. There is local color and plausible action in Lathen stories, like fires, riots, and intense confrontations, but ultimately reason takes center stage.
I highly recommend this one to Lathen fans and novices.