A Deadly Affection

Written by Cuyler Overholt

New York City, 1907. Genevieve Summerford, MD, having spurned a position at a prestigious hospital, is about to embark on a research study in the Yorkville tenement district. Her hypothesis: if women with psychosomatic pain can identify the trauma at its root, they can free themselves from it. In her first session, Summerford’s patient Eliza Miner discloses that she was once forced to give up her illegitimate baby. Still grieving eighteen years later, Eliza wants only to know the girl’s whereabouts. Summerford encourages Eliza to face Dr. Hauptfurer, the prominent physician who arranged the adoption, and demand the information.

The next morning, Summerford sees Eliza Miner, dazed and covered in blood, being escorted by police from Hauptfurer’s office. While Detective Sergeant Maloney works to establish that it was Eliza who slit the doctor’s throat, Summerford investigates Hauptfurer’s many shady adoptions, homing in on one of the city’s wealthiest families.

Genevieve Summerford, young and inexperienced, with a tendency to act without thinking, has her own ghosts to exorcize, as do most of the characters in a cast that spans the spectrum of New York society. Author Cuyler Overholt peels back the skin of this hierarchy, deftly revealing the kind of secrets that pervade every societal level and that link the unlikeliest members of each.

Rather than exploit New York’s vast cityscape to evoke atmosphere, Overholt goes intimate in this medical thriller, bringing Summerford and her suspects together in tight spaces—a drawing room, a railroad car, a back bedroom—where conversation becomes conflict and tension boils over into turmoil. A well-researched, entertaining mystery with conclusions you’ll never see coming, A Deadly Affection is an exciting start to what promises to be an addictive mystery series.