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Customer Review

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a well crafted and engrossing read, 15 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Murder on Lenox Hill (Gaslight Mysteries) (Hardcover)
Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series is, definitely, one of the (if not the) best American historical mystery series around. And if you're in the market for a good mystery novel with wonderful historical detail and a nifty storyline, you'll definitely enjoy "Murder on Lennox Hill."
When midwife and nurse, Sarah Brandt, is asked to go the Linton house on Lennox Hill, she thinks that she's about to be asked to take care of another well-off expectant matron and she's grateful for the opportunity to add a well paying client to her files. But the Lintons, who turn out to be a much older couple, have actually requested Sarah's help for a much more serious matter: they fear that their sweet but simple-minded daughter, Grace, may be with child, and they want Sarah to put their minds at rest by examining the child. A brief examination confirms everyone's worst fears: Grace is almost six months pregnant. But how did Grace, who was never left on her own, and who was always in the company of either her mother or her maid, become pregnant? It is a mystery that Sarah is determined to solve and to put a stop to the monster who took advantage of Grace before he strikes again. And to do that Sarah enlists the help of her friend, police detective Frank Malloy, and carefully begins to make herself part of the Linton's circle of friends.
Frank, in the meantime, has been approached by Sarah's father on another matter. Part of New York's upper class, Felix Decker had disapproved of Sarah's marriage to Dr. Thomas Brandt, and of her work as a midwife and nurse. And when Brandt was murdered, the Deckers had assumed that Sarah would come home and take her place in society again. Except that Sarah chose to continue her work and to seek justice for Brandt's murder. Now, Decker wants to hire Frank to find Brandt's murderer. Decker has a letter that claims that Brandt was an unsavoury character. And he thinks that if Brandt's murderer is found, all of Brandt's crimes will come to light, and that a disillusioned Sarah will finally come to her senses and come home, and that she will also turn her back on Frank for having revealed Brandt to be the man he actually is (Decker disapproves completely of Sarah's friendship with Frank). And while Frank knows all this, he also realises that he is the only one who can do a proper job, find out the real truth about Brandt (and not just what Decker wants to hear) and so minimise the damage done to Sarah. And so Frank finds himself, much against his will, working for Felix Decker. That is until Sarah involves him in the Linton case, and that investigation leads both Sarah and Frank into an area of depravity that even they were unprepared for...
My first advice is not to read the blurb on the dustwrapper. It gives away almost three quarters of the plot! Why do publishers do this? Don't they realise that for most mystery addicts, plot development, with all its many (or few) twists and turns are an important feature? Because Victoria Thompson's Gaslight mysteries are an auto-buy, I didn't read the blurb and so was saved from disappointment. I only read it when I was in the middle of writing the review -- hence the rant. Ranting aside, "Murder on Lennox Hill" was a good read. The storyline was an intriguing one that developed smoothly and unfolded at a good and constant pace. And the character portrayals were so well done as to seem almost lifelike. The period detail was brilliant as well, and added a nice background atmosphere to the novel at hand. And while there weren't too many plot twists, when it did come, it really did liven up the book enormously. Also adding to the complexity of tone was how Thompson filtered in the mystery of Thomas Brandt's murder, showing us how important it was to both Frank and Sarah that truth about the murder came out. All in all, "Murder on Lennox Hill" was a truly superb read, and one that should not be missed.
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Location: Portland, Oregon

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