Murder in Rose Hill

Gaslight Mystery #27

By Victoria Thompson

ISBN 9780593639795


Midwife Sarah Malloy and her private detective husband Frank discover that the cure is worse than the disease when they investigate the death of a promising young woman in this atmospheric, riveting mystery from the USA TODAY bestselling author of Murder on Bedford Street.
Sarah Malloy has just helped with the delivery of a bouncing baby girl at her women’s clinic, when she receives a visit from an engaging and determined young woman writing an article for New Century Magazine. Louisa Rodgers explains that she is researching the dangers of patent remedies. Sarah is only too happy to tell Louisa exactly what she thinks of the so-called medicines whose ingredients include heavy doses of alcohol and other addictive drugs, and hurt much more than they help.

A few days later, Sarah receives a visit from a bereft Bernard Rodgers, who explains that his daughter, Louisa, has been found strangled in the lobby of the building where New Century has its offices. The police have decided it was a random attack and have made no attempt to investigate, hinting that Louisa got what she deserved for sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Sarah wants justice for the bright young woman but as she and Frank delve deeper into Louisa’s life, they find that nothing is quite as it seemed and Louisa is not who she claimed to be. The Malloys must first solve the mystery of Louisa’s life before they can figure out who wanted to see her dead… (From Goodreads)


This new episode in the Gaslight Mystery series is excellent! Along with a hard-to-put-down, challenging mystery, I enjoy the historical accuracy. I smile when reading about the differences between the electric and gasoline motorcars in 1901, especially how electric motorcars were considered more for women drivers than men. The first day of the novel is the date that President McKinley was shot, and it was as defining a day for that generation as November 22, 1963 was for my contemporaries.

It is a delight to visit Sarah and Frank Malloy and their family. They are a close, loving couple who adore their children and are willing to help others. Sarah’s parents are wealthy and down-to-earth. It is funny to see how much her mother wants to help their investigations. Even her father is interested in doing his part. Frank’s mother, only called Mother Malloy, voices some of the simple, yet profound questions that help them with new clues or solutions.

Maeve, the nanny to their two children, enjoys everything she can do for the investigations, and works as the receptionist and secretary at Frank’s company when the children are in school. Gino was Frank’s younger partner on the police force and is now his partner in the private investigation firm. Gino adores Maeve, but she hesitates to give voice to her feelings for him. Mother Malloy is certain that a proposal is forthcoming.

Sarah was at the women’s clinic she founded on the Friday Louisa Rodgers came in for assistance with a magazine article. Louisa was writing about patent medicines that were available for almost every ailment, hoping that revealing the dangers would get them removed from the market. Most contained healing herbs with a large percentage of alcohol or opiates. Even women of the upper class used them for anything from colds to menopause, and some mother used them to help colicky babies. Sadly, women and even babies would become addicted. Sarah and Louisa conversed for a while that day, and Sarah gave her card to Louisa should she have additional questions.

The following week, Louisa’s father, Bernard Rodgers, came to the Malloy home. He found Sarah’s card in Louisa’s things. She had been found murdered in the lobby of the building where the magazine office was housed. He wanted her killer found, but the police said it was probably done at random and refused to investigate. He wondered how Sarah knew her, and she explained that Louisa asked questions regarding an article she was writing for her magazine. Mr. Rodgers was startled, as Louisa was a secretary, not a reporter, for the magazine.

Sarah explained about Frank’s private investigation firm, since Mr. Rodgers could get no help from New York City police. Sarah took Mr. Rodgers to Frank’s office, as he was very unsteady and emotional. He appreciated Frank’s responses, and quickly hired him. Frank and Gino were able to start working the case that day, and Maeve was thrilled to have an undercover role in the case.

I fully appreciated the work to find who killed Louisa, and how the author researched and wrote very believably of the era. Trying to find a killer in New York City at a time when there was no internet, few landline phones, no email or any other 21st century advantages was much more challenging than the present day. They had several suspects, including a co-worker Louisa refused to date and a too-friendly woman in the rooming house where Louisa lived. Within days, one of Louisa’s family members died. It appeared to be suicide, but more than one person was doubtful.

When it was finally determined who killed Louisa, I was only slightly surprised as it was someone I had considered on and off throughout. Overall, the end of the novel was very satisfying, and I even looked up some questions I had about patent medicines and President McKinley. I highly recommend this mystery and series!