19th Century New York City, with its desperate poverty, dazzling excesses, corrupt administrations, and flood of immigrants has long been fertile ground for crime fiction. Like Caleb Carr and Jack Finney, Victoria Thompson is one of the few writers to successfully utilize and represent this world without imposing our 21st Century values on it.
Murder on Mulberry Bend, specifically, best captures this fascinating cityscape. The unlikely team of midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy is a pleasure to watch interact. The tensions between them--romantic and professional--really come to a crisis point here. The murder mystery element of the book is what we've come to expect from Ms. Thompson: twisting, suspenseful, and completely satisfying. But this story gives us an added bonus: we get a very compelling hint as to who may have murdered Sarah's beloved husband, Tom. Read it and enjoy!