Investigators Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton Geoffrey Hunter discover all that glitters is not gold in the Gilded Age, whether on the island of Manhattan or an island off the coast of Georgia …
DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW
In spring 1889, Prudence and Geoffrey set sail from New York Harbor on a private yacht bound for Bradford Island, where her friend Eleanor Dickson is to be wed. The Sea Islands along the Georgia coast serve as a winter playground for the likes of the Carnegies, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Dicksons. Despite her Yankee pedigree, Eleanor is marrying a Southern gentleman, Teddy Bennett, and Prudence is thrilled to be the maid of honor.
But days before the wedding, the bride is nowhere to be found. A frantic search of the island turns up her drowned corpse in an alligator-infested swamp. Prudence is devastated, but as they prepare the body for burial, she and Geoffrey discover evidence of bruising that indicates Eleanor was held under—most dishonorably murdered.
Determined to seek justice for her beloved friend, Prudence begins to investigate with Geoffrey's help and is quickly led into a morass of voodoo spells and dark deeds from the days of slavery. As Prudence and Geoffrey pursue a killer, they soon discover that Eleanor will not be the last to die on Bradford Island …
Simpson's strong fourth Gilded Age mystery (after 2018's Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets) brings New Yorker Prudence MacKenzie and former Pinkerton detective Geoffrey Hunter to Georgia's Bradford Island for the wedding of a close friend of Prudence, heiress Eleanor Dickson. Soon after their arrival, Eleanor is found drowned. When Geoffrey notices bruising on the body that suggests foul play, the two determine to solve the crime. Prudence discovers that juju is still practiced on Bradford and that a former slave and conjure woman called Aunt Jessa knows more than she is telling. When Aunt Jessa is murdered, the sleuths feel sure that the island's secrets hold the key to Eleanor's death. The tension rises as Prudence's Yankee perspective clashes with Geoffrey's greater sympathy for the South, jeopardizing their investigative partnership and their personal rapport. Though the elaborate backstory can be confusing, Simpson neatly exploits the gothic possibilities of her isolated setting and delivers a nuanced look at an America struggling to adjust to transformative change. This entry should win the series new fans.