Betrayal on the Bowery (A Gilded Gotham Mystery)

Written by Kate Belli
Review by Bryan Dumas

Genevieve Stewart, society page writer/part-time sleuth, stands on a New York City dock watching her recently married friends—Esmie and Rupert, the Lord Umberland—depart for their honeymoon in Europe. But a scream erupts from the ship, and Genevieve knows it came from Esmie’s stateroom. Standing beside her is her romantic foil and investigative partner, Daniel McCaffrey, and without hesitation, he bolts up the gangplank with Genevieve in tow. In Esmie’s room, they find Esmie’s former suitor, Marcus Dalrymple, dead on the floor.

What follows is a complicated mystery that draws Genevieve and Daniel back into the darker recesses of New York’s crime syndicates. Esmie and Rupert are remanded to Esmie’s home by a police detective, Aloysius Longstreet, who loathes the aristocracy and has a sore spot for Daniel. A mysterious coin found in Marcus’ pocket leads Daniel and Genevieve to a seedy Bowery brothel called Boyle’s Suicide Tavern—made legendary by deaths upstairs. Added to Marcus’s death is a side job for a wealthy sugar magnate whose daughter has run away from home. Soon, the tangled web of deceit and retribution ensnares Genevieve and Daniel as they inch closer to unraveling dark plots.

Belli (Deception by Gaslight) relies on a few plot conveniences to move the story forward, but the interactions between Genevieve and Daniel elevate the story; can their love for each other survive a mysterious house and gangsters out for their lives? Gilded Age New York is drawn in all its grim nastiness counterposed against the glamour of the Astor 400 set. A satisfactory mystery with enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing.