My Mistress’ Eyes are Raven Black

Written by Terry Roberts
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

In this atmospheric historical thriller set at Ellis Island’s Isolation Hospital in 1920, Stephen Robbins, a private investigator, and a nurse, Lucy Paul, team up to investigate the whereabouts of an Irish immigrant who should have arrived but who disappeared without a trace. Paul tells Robbins that the young Irish immigrant is not the first to have gone missing from Ellis Island. Despite the outward concern of the staff, Stephen and Lucy unearth a shattering truth as they dig deeper into the mysterious happenings at the Island. In the meantime, the two characters form an unshakable bond as well as a burgeoning romance as they realize that their lives may be in danger.

This book immediately draws the reader in, as the storyline is highly engaging. The suspense builds as the investigative team begins to understand why certain immigrants are unsafe upon arrival at Ellis Island.

What was most fascinating was the book’s examination of blatant racism and the notion of racial purity a century ago; the reader can’t help but consider the parallels to today’s hot-button topics of immigration and racism. Part detective story, part romance, part social commentary, the book builds to a satisfying conclusion and leaves the reader to ponder the larger societal issues. Readers of Terry Roberts’ previous novel, A Short Time to Stay Here, may recognize the protagonist, Stephen Robbins, from that book.