Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue
Gaslight Mystery, Book #18
By Victoria Thompson
Author Website: victoriathompson(.)com
Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy and Sarah Brandt are not the only ones who have recently tied the knot. Family friend Mrs. O’Neill was delighted when her daughter Una wed the seemingly wealthy and charming Randolph Pollock. She didn’t wonder why such an affluent man would want to marry a poor Irish girl, no matter how pretty she was. But now Mrs. O’Neill has a problem.
Pollock’s servants have found their employer bludgeoned to death with Una cradling his body. Rendered mute by the horror of her husband’s death, Una cannot explain what happened, so the police have charged her with murder and locked her away in the Tombs to await trial.
Mrs. O’Neill would like Frank to investigate the case and save Una, yet with Frank and Sarah still on their honeymoon, it’s up to the other members of their newly formed household to do some detective work. But solving the mystery behind Pollock’s death means first discovering the truth about who he really is…(from Goodreads)
The Gaslight Mystery series is quickly rising on the list of my favorite historical cozy mystery series, and ‘Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue’ has solidified that. While it is not a period of history that I typically read from, I find that the turn of the twentieth century through the eyes of these delightful characters is a time of vital changes in this country as the author brings it to life. It is also a time of change for the NYPD, which had a poor reputation due to corruption and grifting from the of beat officers up to officials.
Former Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy and his bride, Sarah, are in Europe for their honeymoon while Frank’s mother and Maeve, the nursemaid are at their new home with Sarah’s children. A former neighbor of Frank comes to the door seeking his investigative help for her daughter, Una, who is in jail for murdering her husband, nouveau-riche Randolph Pollack. Una’s widowed mother has no idea what to do, so Maeve gives her what assistance she can. She sends a message to Officer Gino Donatelli, who assisted Frank in the past before he left the NYPD, to find out what to do next. Maeve and he were acquaintances at best, but Gino definitely is interested in Maeve.
Before we know it, Gino and Maeve are working together to try to assist Una, even enlisting the assistance of the Deckers, Sarah’s parents. Gino and Maeve have hopes of Frank being opening a private detective agency when the Malloys return, especially since Maeve wants to use her brain a bit and have adventures, and Gino is less than happy with the police department since Frank left. The Deckers, Maeve, and Gino work through the puzzle by thinking about what Frank would do if he were there. Mr. Decker has many contacts among the social circle he and his wife enjoy, which helps, especially as the oddities increase. Nobody is who they seem to be in this intriguing, exciting mystery taking place on time for the Christmas holiday!
I very much enjoy the depth of the characters in this series! The Deckers, Sarah’s parents, have achieved social and financial status that comes partly from their heritage and partly due to Mr. Decker’s consistent hard work. Sarah, widowed, had worked as a midwife, and Frank and Gino were of the working class. Maeve has been a servant to those who can afford help. Maeve, Una and her mother were used to hard work, as were Gino and Frank. What made the story for me this time was seeing Maeve and Gino together, the Deckers enjoying their roles in the drama, and simply getting to know Maeve more.
This novel is more complex than many cozy mysteries, and I like that! The author brings humor and enough plot twists to keep the story moving along. I did find I had to follow very closely in a few places when more players were added, then more bodies found. Gino, Maeve, and the Deckers magnificently worked the investigation; Frank definitely would have a growing PI and helpers! It is definitely a wonderful break to be where there are no cell phones, a time when having electricity in a home is not the norm, and the thought of a traffic jam made up of horse-drawn carriages gives one pause. It was fascinating to read about the sign language that Sarah’s son continued to learn as well as the family. The novel absolutely drew me in from the beginning and held it through the end, and I am so looking forward to the next in series! I enjoy not knowing who the bad guy/ gal might be, and following the red herrings along with the characters. I was very satisfied with the ending, with no loose ends left. I highly recommend ‘Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue’ to fans of historical mysteries and well-written cozy mysteries.