Murder on Trinity Place (A Gaslight Mystery)

Written by Victoria Thompson
Review by Gini Grossenbacher

“All he ever talks about is milk.” Thus Sarah Malloy hears the first of many complaints about Clarence Pritchard, the neighborhood dairyman in 1899 New York City who is found strangled, face-down in some bushes not far from Trinity Church after the New Year’s Eve revelry. Sarah Malloy and her detective husband, Frank, find the news distressing, and since the police do not appear interested, Pritchard’s family asks Frank to investigate. Frank and his fellow sleuth Gino discover wagons traveling between the dairy and the wharf at night—and they suspect the contents in the wagons are not exactly milk. When Sarah tries to help a young Miss Vane, a pregnant woman in disgrace, she and Frank enlist the help of one Black Jack Robinson, an owner of gambling dens and saloons who may marry the young pregnant woman Maeve in a unique arrangement. She will gain protection and a father for her child. He, in turn, will gain respectability. Robinson assists Malloy and Gino by adding his underworld tips to their ongoing investigation.

Thompson’s novel moves with ongoing twists and turns while Frank and Gino uncover murder clues inside the dairy business. At the same time, Sarah unearths gossip concerning Frank Pritchard’s wife, his son Harvey, and recent arguments over the son’s gambling. When Harvey is murdered, Malloy suspects that the dairy fronted the moving of stolen goods throughout the city and his murderer may be linked to that business. The “gaslight” setting of New York and the society’s mores prevail in this novel. The reader learns about the restrictions on women at the time. The pace is brisk and keeps the reader’s attention; the style is a lesson in purposeful, tension-filled plotting. Fans of Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery series will not be disappointed with this new addition. A most satisfying mystery.