I love the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson and Murder in the Bowery, Book #20 delivered the same great cozy mystery suspense I’ve come to know and expect from this series.
Sarah and Frank Malloy are now married and Frank is a wealthy man and is no longer on the New York City police force. He is running his own private detective business with his associate, Gino Donatelli. Of course, Frank and Gino aren’t the only sleuths in the book. As always, Frank’s wife, Sarah, and their nursemaid, Maeve are also actively involved.
Frank Malloy is hired to find a newsie, one of the young boys who sold newspapers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century on the streets of New York. Malloy is slightly suspicious about the young man who hires him, Will Bert. The boy’s story seems plausible, he and his younger brother, Freddie, were orphans who were separated for many years. Will, now claims to be well off and wants to find his brother so he can share his good fortune. It doesn’t take Malloy long to locate the missing boy, but it turns out he not only doesn’t have an older brother, but Freddie is soon found murdered. Now Frank is determined to find not only Freddie’s killer, but the murderer of a well-bred young woman whose body was also discovered in the bowery near where Freddie is found.
I’m fond of historical mysteries and the Gaslight Mystery series pays careful attention to period details. This book includes details about the newsboys’ strike that are historically accurate. There was, indeed a strike. However, it’s the little details that Victoria Thompson includes which make the story ring true, like the fact that punctuation wasn’t used in telegraphs until after the war. These types of details are not just fun facts, but aid in the realism of the books.
Another thing I like about this seris is that Victoria Thompson isn’t afraid to tackle challenging topics. In this series she has addressed race, poverty, incest, unwed mothers, sex and homosexual relationships. This book is no different. Murder in the Bowery addresses some very tough subjects which were common in the time period, but aren’t common topics in cozy mysteries. Thompson manages to address these topics in a way that is respectful and yet remaining true the cozy nature of the books.
I’m also enjoying how the characters have grown and evolved over the course of the series. Unlike books where nothing ever changes, readers have watched as Sarah and Frank’s relationship has blossomed from acquaintances to friendship and now into one of love and mutual respect. I’ve enjoyed seeing Sarah’s parent’s involvement in their cases along with the hope of a relationship between Maeve and Gino. Still, if you are new to the series, you could pick up Murder in the Bowery and enjoy a great mystery. You won’t be hampered by not having read the earlier books. However, I recommend you get them all. It’s a great experience and you won’t want to miss a single word.