Thursday, December 26, 2013

REVIEW: Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson

Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight Mystery, #1)Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Hard Copy
Narrated By: NA
Original Publication Year: 1999
Genre(s): Mystery
Series: Gaslight Mysteries #1
Awards: None

I went into my local book shop looking for something new. Once the bookseller had ascertained that I enjoy historical fiction and mysteries, she immediately suggested this series. It is nothing too unique or noteworthy but I was easily sucked into it and I particularly enjoyed the development of the two main characters.

The time and place setting is 1890’s New York. Sarah Brandt is a former debutante, who is now cut off from her family and working as a midwife. She is compassionate and curious which draws her into the investigation of a teenage girl’s murder in a boarding house where she helped deliver a baby. Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy is a New York City cop, who on the surface appears to be a stereotypical cop of the time, only interested in solving cases that come with a reward or bribe. The two make an unlikely detecting team and for the first half of the novel they mostly just irritate each other. It becomes eventually clear however that they can each provide something to the investigation that the other lacks and they begin grudgingly to work together.

As may be apparent from my plot synopsis above, the two main characters and their development and relationship was really the element of the book I liked the most. I have no doubt that the author will eventually get these two together romantically but she doesn’t rush things (which I appreciate) and by the end of the book they are barely on speaking terms. They’ve each developed respect for the other and they have each learned something about themselves and each other as they’ve worked together.

The mystery was pretty good though I guessed the solution fairly early on and was therefore irritated with the heroine’s denseness for not catching on. She can hardly be blamed however, since she hasn’t had the advantage I have of reading lots of mysteries like this! The point being, that it is not a mystery that surprised or amazed me but I was interested all the same because of the personalities involved. I also enjoyed the historical detail of the time period.

It struck me as being an American version of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry. It’s been a while since I’ve read any books in that series but I think it’s a fair comparison tonally etc….

Final Verdict: A competent historical mystery with engaging and interesting main characters. I will definitely pick up others in the series when I’m in the mood for a quick and enjoyable read.

So, what's y'alls favorite historical mystery series?  Mine is probably Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel Series.

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