The Natural Selection

Sarah sleuths again in The Natural Selection. The murder of a college professor leads Sarah to the Scopes “monkey” trial where Darwin’s theory of evolution is under fire. This socially and politically relevant historical mystery includes actual courtroom excerpts and vividly portrays the Scopes trial’s central figures: John Scopes, William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, and especially H.L. Mencken. 2009 California Book Award Finalist, 2009 San Diego Book Award Finalist, 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist


"A story about one of the most fascinating trials of history and told with a sympathy and a remarkable eye and ear for the time. The research is superb."

–Anne Perry, award-winning, bestselling author of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and William Monk mysteries

"In The Natural Selection, the second in a series of Sarah Kaufman historical mysteries, Ona Russell deftly weaves a fictitious tale of murder and intrigue with the factual Scopes 'Monkey' trial, called the Trial of the Century. Set authentically in Tennessee in the 1920s, the plot follows Sarah, a believable and appealing protagonist, as she interacts seamlessly with the story's characters as well as real participants from the trial, notably celebrated journalist H.L. Mencken. Russell crafts a vinegar divide between science and fundamentalism, reason and racism, change and convention, and intelligence and insecurity. The fast flowing, elegant writing will hook readers; but the book is all the more fascinating, if not distressing, because it strikes close to today's social and political climate. The controversy and relevance of The Natural Selection will draw them into the time period and keep them turning pages until the end."

–Philadelphia Stories Magazine