Thursday, November 22, 2007

Murder on Astor Place: A Gaslight Mystery by Victoria Thompson

Overview: Sprinkled with fascinating details of turn-of-the-century New York City, Thompson's old-fashioned mystery takes the reader from the mansions of Fifth Avenue to the flophouses of the Lower East Side. Sarah Brandt is a midwife who has been estranged from her wealthy family for years. When Alicia VanDamm, a young woman from a prominent family, is murdered, Sarah must return to the upper-class society she has scorned to find the killer. Haunted by her past and disgusted by police department corruption, Sarah takes it upon herself to avenge the girl's death. Annoyed at first by her interference, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy asks for Sarah's help only when he has been taken off the case at the request of the victim's scandal-fearing family. The feisty midwife and the ambitious policeman grudgingly become allies in their search for justice. Sarah and Frank are appealing characters, and the author develops their rapport subtly and believably. In this first installment in a new series of historical mysteries, Thompson vividly re-creates the gas-lit world of old New York, concluding her mystery with revelations that will shock even 20th-century readers.

My review: This is one those mysteries from my running list I keep of books to read. While it's short book, 278 pages, and a fast read I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the story. While both lead characters have their faults you find yourself liking them and wanting to spend more time with them. Fortunately we can do that as there a several books on this series back list.

While I did have my suspicions about a major character they weren't completely confirmed until the last 50 or pages of the story and even then there was a twist or two I hadn't picked up on earlier in the book. If the rest of the books in this series continue to be this entertaining one could spend many enjoyable reading hours with Sarah and Frank.


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