Murder on Bedford Street
Gaslight Mystery #26
By Victoria Thompson
Author’s website: victoriathompson.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Midwife Sarah Malloy and her private investigator husband, Frank, must stop a killer lurking among a young family in the newest installment of the USA Today bestselling Gaslight Mysteries.
Hugh Breedlove is far from the most agreeable client private investigator Frank Malloy has ever had, but his case is impossible to refuse: his young niece, Julia, has been wrongfully committed to an insane asylum by her cruel and unfaithful husband, Chet Longly. Though Breedlove and his wife seem more interested in protecting the family reputation than their niece’s safety, Frank and Sarah agree to help for the sake of Julia and the young son she left behind.
Frank and Sarah’s investigation reveals a dark secret—a maid at the Longly home died suspiciously under Chet’s watch, and now it seems Julia’s son might also be in danger. The Malloys fear they are dealing with a man more dangerous than they had anticipated, one who will do anything to defame his wife. But all is not as it seems in the Longly family, and perhaps another monster is hiding in plain sight …. (From Goodreads)
I was delighted to be back in Greenwich Village with Frank and Sarah Malloy! This mystery was brilliantly constructed and executed. I enjoyed spending more time with Maeve than usual. Something I noticed and didn’t recall from past mysteries is how humorous some of the descriptions are, this time beginning with the first scene at the initial introduction of Frank and Gino to a new client, Hugh Breedlove. Frank is a former NYPD detective and Gino, a former police officer, so they knew they would meet interesting people in their private investigations firm.
Hugh, his wife Amelia, and daughter Ruth recently returned to New York after Hugh managed his firm’s London office for several years. Amelia wanted Ruth to make her formal introduction to society in New York and meet eligible young men in their home country. They sought Hugh’s brother’s daughter Julia Longly, and her widowed mother, Ellie Breedlove, to introduce Ruth to society. What Hugh learned was shocking. Ellie had disappeared shortly after Julia married Chet Longly several years earlier. Chet had recently committed Julia to the Manhattan State Hospital.
Hugh and Amelia visited their niece at the asylum and learned disturbing things about Julia’s husband, including his drinking, gambling, and flaunting of a mistress. When he finally tired of Julia’s nagging, he had her committed to the insane asylum. None of the doctors would believe she was of sound mind, but Hugh and his wife were convinced she was. He asked them to find a way to quickly, discreetly, get her out, as his daughter’s coming out couldn’t be marred with introduction by a family member who was suspected to be insane. Frank and his wife, Sarah, a nurse and midwife, would visit Julia so he could learn more about the situation.
When they first met Julia, Frank and Sarah felt Breedlove’s assertion of Julia’s sanity was correct. Julia described the horrors of Chet’s behaviors, which matched what she told her uncle and aunt. She told Frank and Sarah even more, including living conditions in the asylum. It must have been terrifying for a young lady in society to be locked away with people thought to be irretrievably insane. Sarah had spent much of her career helping women who had been abused and worse, and was sympathetic to her plight.
Frank and Sarah determined to find a way to get Julia released from the asylum. The Breedloves would need to secure a place for her and her four-year-old son, Victor, to stay, presumably getting funds from her husband. Maeve, the live-in nanny for Frank and Sarah’s children, works in Frank’s office when the children are in school. She wanted more involvement with investigations they work, and this time got her wish. The last nursemaid for Julia’s son died when “falling from” the nursery window. With her experience and expertise with children, Maeve was hired as Victor’s nursemaid in hopes of finding the truth about Chet Longly. Sometimes the truth is not what one expects, and the huge twist to this tale was like a bucket of icy cold water when Maeve and Sarah finally found it.
Each of the primary characters continues to grow with the series. Snippets of their backstories, along with behaviors and conversations, can help a reader new to the series enjoy it as much as a long-term fan. The historical touches are enlightening, including more information about the electric motorcars introduced in the last mystery.
The mystery seems almost cut and dried very early on, but there was far more than met the eye. The plot twists and turns were shocking and at times horrifying. It is brilliantly written with surprises, heartwarming scenes of Maeve caring for little Victor, and Gino’s constant concern for her welfare while at the Longly home. The end was very different than anticipated and very satisfying, and I am again eager for the next in series! I highly recommend this and earlier novels in the series!