Murder on Sisters’ Row
Fans of Victoria Thompson and her Gaslight Mystery series will enjoy Murder on Sisters’ Row, the latest Sarah Brandt story. Sarah is an appealing sleuth, and her profession as a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York makes plausible the murder in which she becomes embroiled. However, as often happens when new readers pick up a title in a longstanding series, the recurring characters come across a bit flat and contextless, especially the potential love interest, Malloy.
Here, the story revolves around a woman in a brothel, whom Sarah is called upon to assist in delivering her child. She claims she is not a prostitute but was abandoned there by her well-heeled lover, who suspiciously has the same name as the husband of a woman who uses her own fortune to found a shelter for women escaping prostitution. When this woman is murdered, all signs point to the new mother, but Sarah is not convinced. The cast of possible suspects is large, though it’s fairly easy to rule out most of them, and the inevitable last-minute twist falls a bit flat since the character had been rather colorless throughout. The setting is not developed as thoroughly as readers of historical fiction may expect, and in parts only a specific mention of a figure like Teddy Roosevelt serves to remind the reader of the era. This is a quick and engrossing read, but it might be better for those unfamiliar with the series to start with an earlier title.