This is the fifth book in the Gaslight Mystery series by this author. Once again, it features the two main characters in the series, midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. Those who follow the series know that Sarah is the daughter of one of the prominent Knickerbocker families of New York City, and Frank is a member of the New York City Police Department. Set in the very late eighteen-nineties, around the turn of the twentieth century, the book is rife with period details, and the actions of most of the characters are governed by the social mores and politics of the times.
After her husband Tom was murdered, Sarah Brandt, having turned her back on her former life as a socialite, has chosen to work as a midwife and lead an independent life, much to the consternation of her wealthy and socially prominent family. Frank Malloy works in the corrupt New York City Police Department, which is undergoing reforms under the leadership of Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. Frank, too, is widowed, his wife having died giving birth to their only child, Brian, who was born deaf. Sarah and Frank have recently gotten to know each other through a series of murders that have taken place in which they have both collaborated in finding the murderers.
In this book, Sarah finds herself volunteering her time to work at the Prodigal Son Mission on Mulberry Bend, which is a refuge for young women who would otherwise find themselves living on the streets and surviving by whatever means necessary. When one of the girls is discovered dead on the streets of New York City, Sarah will not rest till justice is done.
To ensure that, she seeks the assistance of Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy, who agrees to investigate, if only to keep Sarah from doing it herself single-handedly. The investigation takes a number of twists and turns, and Sarah is, indeed, involved in solving the case, an involvement that threatens to take an altogether deadly turn where Sarah is involved.
This is a well-written series, and the characters are well-developed. The backdrop of their lives is the scene against which the mysteries are played out. Consequently, the mysteries serve as a vehicle for further expounding on the lives of the primary, and many of the secondary, characters in the book. Those who enjoy reading historical fiction and mysteries will find that this series perfectly melds these two genres.