Murder in Morningside Heights
Gaslight Mystery, Book #19
By Victoria Thompson
Author Website: victoriathompson.com
In the latest from the bestselling author of Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue, former police sergeant Frank Malloy and his wife adjust to life in New York high society as they investigate a death in the field of higher learning…
After spending his first few weeks as a private detective by investigating infidelities of the wealthy, Frank has a more serious case at hand.
Abigail Northrup of Tarrytown, New York, was her parents’ pride and joy. After graduating from a prestigious women’s college in Morningside Heights, she took a job there as an instructor. She also joined the ranks of the New Women, ladies planning for a life without a husband in which they make their own decisions and make a difference in the world. Unfortunately, her murder ended all that.
When the police declare the incident a random attack and refuse to investigate further, Abigail’s parents request Frank’s help. Of course, he’ll need Sarah’s assistance as she’s more familiar with the world of academia, and it will be far easier for her to interview the lady professors. Yet difficulties arise as they learn that although Miss Northrup may have been an exemplary student and teacher, she lived in a world of secrets and lies… (Goodreads)
What a wonderfully formidable team! Frank Malloy, former police sergeant/ detective and his bride Sarah, a midwife, are newly married. Sarah is learning to be a lady of leisure, the norm in the neighborhood they now live in since Frank received an amazing inheritance but not the norm for her. Frank has opened a PI firm with the assistance of former police officer Gino. Maeve, nursemaid in the Malloy household, and Gino are becoming a couple; Sarah and Maeve are excellent listeners and provide insightful suggestions regarding the cases the men worked on.
The new case is shocking in intensity, frightening in location, and sad lacking in local police coverage. A young woman, Abigail Northrup, was a recently-hired French instructor at a prestigious women’s college in Morningside Heights after she graduated from said college. She was brutally murdered with a tool belonging to the janitor in a gazebo at the college. Abigail’s parents hired Frank to find the killer as the police were not vested, without a sizable bribe, in doing their jobs.
Both couples are very likable. Frank and Sarah are sharp and knowledgeable in the ways of people as gained over years of expertise in their respective backgrounds as a NYC detective and a midwife. Sarah’s mother provides invaluable assistance in the brief time we see her. Gino’s youth brings energy yet naivete after his relatively short time as a police officer; he and Maeve compliment each other with differing viewpoints. Sarah shows herself invaluable by interviewing some of the ladies who might not speak openly in front of Frank or Gino. Characterizations are part of what makes this author excel! Frank and Sarah could step off the pages of this early 20th century mystery. Gino and Maeve are not as well defined but still clearly demonstrate their roles. Those who are only in this novel are still very well depicted; they are described with excellence through actions, emotions, and conversations. I felt as if I knew the two instructors and the housekeeper that Abigail lived with, not so much so the elegant French professor for whom she worked. Abigail’s best friend, brother, and secret gentleman friend were more shrouded in a cloak of mystery through most of the story.
The historical setting was fascinating to me; it is interesting to learn the details shared throughout for the time period of my grandparents’ youth. The 19th in the Gaslight Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone. The only thing that was a little disappointing was not learning some of the background that makes the Malloys who they are, such as how the police detective and midwife had met and the circumstances of Frank’s inheritance.
This author wow’s the reader with the depth and layers of the plot. She showed how many had motive and opportunity to murder Abigail, and could even be capable of such a brutal murder. There were intriguing and surprising plot twists and turns, and this reader even went chasing a couple of the red herrings. I completely did not see who the real bad guy/ gal was or a motive, although I did think that possibly the person knew either who did it or why. I highly recommend Murder in Morningside Heights to those who appreciate historical cozy mysteries with strong, secure protagonists and a mystery that is challenging to solve. This is the first novel I’ve read in A Gaslight Mystery series, and I am looking forward to reading many more successive and earlier mysteries!