Murder in Midtown
A Louise Faulk Mystery, Book #2
By Liz Freeland
Author Website: elizabeth-bass(.)com
In 1913, while the women’s suffrage movement gains momentum in the nation’s capital, the thought of a woman joining the New York City police force is downright radical, even if recent transplant Louise Faulk has already solved a murder . . .
Louise has finally gathered the courage to take the police civil service exam, but when she returns to her secretary job at the midtown publishing house of Van Hooten and McChesney, she’s shocked to find the offices smoldering from a deadly, early morning fire. Huddled on the sidewalk, her coworkers inform her that Guy Van Hooten’s body has been found in the charred ruins. Rumors of foul play are already circulating, and the firm’s surviving partner asks Louise to investigate the matter.
Despite a number of possible suspects, the last person Louise expects to be arrested is Ogden McChesney, an old friend and mentor to her aunt Irene. Louise will have to search high and low, from the tenements in the Lower East Side to the very clouds above the tallest skyscrapers, to get to the bottom of an increasingly complex case . . . (Goodreads)
With accurate historical depictions, an exciting turn of the century New York City setting, a smart mystery, and a plucky protagonist, Murder in Midtown is a satisfying historical cozy read.
Louise is Guy Van Hooten’s secretary at Van Hooten and McChesney Publishing House, but she skips work one morning to take the police civil service exam. She experiences quite a shock when, later that morning, she goes to work, only to find the building gutted by fire and Guy’s charred remains inside. Even though Guy was not the ideal employer, or man for that matter, he did not deserve to die so she agrees to investigate at her Aunt Irene’s insistence. When the publishing house partner Ogden McChesney is arrested, Louise leaves no person, stone, or secret unturned to find the real killer.
Murder in Midtown is the second book in the Louise Faulk series, but the first I have read. I had no problem jumping right into the story, and the characters quickly and easily became familiar. There are a variety of characters, all well developed and interesting, that add depth to the tale and complexity to the investigation. Louise is a determined young woman with a big secret, but she has big dreams of becoming a police officer to right wrongs and find justice. Given the opportunity, she quickly discovers that being a night warden is really not that much different from being a secretary. After all, her male coworkers still need someone to make their cups of coffee. Though she might be a little ahead of her time, for the most part her thinking and actions jive with the 1913 setting. She is intelligent, just the right amount of nosy, and a little impulsive. I like her a great deal. The supporting cast, including Louise’s showgirl roommate Callie, friend Otto, Aunt Irene, and Detective Frank Muldoon are all charming and endearing. I also particularly enjoy Aunt Irene’s housekeeper and butler. They provide some lightheartedness to balance out the serious nature of the book.
The mystery is finely plotted and well executed. There are quite a few suspects and plenty of red herrings, twists and turns to keep readers guessing along the way. I was not fully confident in whodunit until shortly before they were revealed. The steady pace and smart writing made this a compelling read.
Highly recommended to any historical mystery fan.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*