Murder in Morningside Heights: A Gaslight Mystery

Written by Victoria Thompson
Review by Martha Hoffman

After years on the New York City police force, Frank Malloy has inherited money and set himself up as a private investigator. His new wife, Sarah, a former midwife, is eager to relieve the boredom of retirement by helping him solve his next case.

A wealthy couple’s daughter has been murdered at the Women’s College where she had recently begun to teach. Possible suspects abound, from jilted lovers to jealous colleagues, and any number of them seems equally likely, until one of them also winds up dead. Over the course of the story, we get a tour of late 19th-century views about women’s roles, race, class, ethnicity, and the introduction of cars. The story dances around the idea that women might have romantic relationships with each other, and various characters repeat the process of not understanding how that could possibly be.

It’s a pleasant read, though the pace is a little slow and the characters tend to over-discuss their theories about the murder. Readers who have been following this Gaslight Mystery series will probably approach the characters as old friends. Those reading for the first time will find them somewhat skimpily outlined, with numerous allusions to previous interactions and plotlines.