Release Date: Apr 30, 2019
Series: A Gaslight Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Group
Sarah and Frank Malloy are enjoying ringing in the year 1900 at the celebration being held at nearby Trinity Church. They run into their neighbor’s father, dairy-owner Clarence Pritchard, who is acting strangely. Malloy tries to help Pritchard, but loses him in the large crowd. The next day, the Malloys hear Pritchard was murdered not long after they saw him at the church. Someone wants the police to look the other way so the victim’s daughter, Theda, hires Malloy to launch a real investigation. Theda is the daughter-in-law of Sarah’s longtime friend Mrs. Edna Elsworth, which gives him even more incentive to get involved in the case. With the help of Sarah and his partner, Gino Donatelli, Malloy is determined to do whatever it takes to find Pritchard’s killer.
This book is number twenty-two in the Gaslight Mystery series. The series has changed from earlier installments since Frank has inherited a fortune and has finally married Sarah. He also resigned from the New York City police force to become a private investigator. Sarah no longer practices as a midwife, but has started a maternity clinic for needy women. I don’t mind the changes and like that Frank and Sarah can finally be together. In fact, the clinic is the source of one of the highlights of this book. One of the clinic’s clients is the focus of a touching subplot in which Sarah plays matchmaker for a young woman whose wealthy family will disown her if she doesn’t give her baby up for adoption.
Clarence Pritchard is a strange man whose own wife and son don’t seem to care he’s gone. Nobody deserves to be murdered, but he and his wife and son are hard to connect with and hard to like. His daughter, Theda, on the other hand, is a kinder person and seems to really be grieving for her father. She gets along well with the main characters and is a nice addition to the book. During the investigation, there is much emphasis that someone may have wanted to kill Clarence for his insistence that 1900, not 1901, begins the 20th century. This never makes sense to me as a motive for murder. Another possible motive is the “milk wars” that apparently were a real thing at this time in history in New York when unscrupulous dairies knowingly sold contaminated milk.
I like how Frank, Sarah, and Gino all work on the case. Frank and Gina spend more time investigating together than Frank and Sarah, but Sarah shares what she learns about the case with Frank to help get to a solution. They learn Clarence had more potential enemies than they thought and things get even more complicated when there is another murder. I like the twists the case takes and enjoy the solution to the murder and to the matchmaking subplot. Fans of the series will enjoy catching up with Frank and Sarah. Readers who enjoy historical mysteries, such as those by Anne Perry, will be able to jump right into this long-running series without missing a beat.