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Flashback: Murder on Astor Place

July 7, 2007

Flashback. . .2006

Murder on Astor Place After a routine delivery, Sarah visits her patient in a rooming house — and discovers that another boarder, a young girl, has been killed. At the request of Sergeant Frank Malloy, she searches the girl’s room. She discovers that the victim is from one of the most prominent families in New York — and the sister of an old friend. The powerful family, fearful of scandal, refuses to permit an investigation. But with Malloy’s help, Sarah begins a dangerous quest to bring the killer to justice.

1st in the Gaslight Mystery series
Author: Victoria Thompson
ISBN: 0-425-16896-4 (Berkley)
Finished: 26 June 2006
Who: Sarah Decker Brandt, midwife, and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy
When: April 1896 New York City – Theodore Roosevelt is police commissioner. He served from 6 May 1895 to 19 April 1897.

I don’t know the author’s plan for this couple, but it will take a lot to get them together. They come from completely different ends of the social spectrum.

Sarah Decker Brandt comes from a very prominent family. She once socialized with the Roosevelts and the Astors: as she tells Frank, “All the Knickerbocker families know each other”. She is the widow of a doctor, Tom, who was murdered three years previously. Sarah chose to work as a midwife instead of returning to her empty and useless life as the daughter of the Felix and Elizabeth Decker. Added to Sarah’s sorrows, and motivation for being a midwife and avoiding her family, her older sister died giving birth. Maggie had chosen to fall in love with, and marry, a poor man her father did not approve of. Cut off from the family, she lived in a squalor and could not afford proper care. The mysterious death of Alicia VanDamm brings Sarah back into her old social circle, mainly because she does not trust the police. They are a corrupt bunch, and never looked into her husband’s death.

Francis “Frank” Malloy is a widower and a lowly police sergeant. His wife, Kathleen, died three years previously, after giving birth to their severely handicapped son, Brian. Frank is trying to do the best thing for Brian and his mother, who watches the boy. He wants to make captain, so he can better provided for them. That means bribes and only working on cases that offer reward money. However, his actions show that he does care about justice. Unfortunately, he also blames the death of his wife on the midwife, something that has an impact on his dealings with Sarah, just as his being a cop impacts her dealings with him.

All this baggage Sarah and Frank carry makes it difficult for each to trust the other completely.

I enjoyed this book just as much as Paige’s series. The book dealt with a subject matter very distasteful, but it hasn’t turn me off to the writer.

Trivia: this series is set around the same time as Robin Paiges’ Victorian mystery series.

Liked A Lot

Liked A Lot

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