Murder on Lenox Hill
In this installment of the Gaslight mysteries, Sarah Brandt continues working as a midwife, defying the niceties of late 19th century society and the wishes of her powerful father. When Sarah agrees to help the parents of a pregnant mentally challenged girl find out who raped her, she unofficially investigates again with Det. Sgt. Frank Malloy. Sarah and Malloy, an honest Irish-American cop at a time when police are largely corrupt and mistrusted, center their enquiries on the pastor of a wealthy East Side church. Meanwhile, Sarah’s father requests that Malloy return to the four-year-old investigation of the murder of Sarah’s husband, Dr. Thomas Brandt. While interesting, this subplot does not reveal new information regarding the identity of his murderer nor allegations about the doctor’s unsavory secret life.
Victoria Thompson does an admirable job in presenting an “unofficial enquiry” in Victorian-era New York City. She tackles a grim topic, pedophilia, which resonates only too easily of our own time. Sarah’s and Malloy’s persistence uncovers depravity which was unimagined and certainly unspoken about by the upper crust of that time. The narrative flows quickly to the surprise ending, with Sarah and Frank unraveling multiple confessions for the murder of the despicable pastor. Sarah and Frank are engaging characters whose friendship deepens in this book. The author hints that their relationship might someday overcome their class differences and blossom into romance. An enjoyable, easy read; recommended.