In Chinatown to deliver a baby, Sarah Brandt meets a group of women she might otherwise never have come across: Irish girls who, after alighting on Ellis Island alone, have married Chinese men in the same predicament. But with bigotry in New York from every side, their mixed-race children are often treated badly, by the Irish, the Chinese—even the police.
When the new mother’s half-Chinese, half-Irish, 15-year-old niece goes missing, Sarah knows that alerting the constables would prove futile. So she turns to Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy—and together they begin the search themselves. And after they find her, dead in an alley, Sarah and Malloy have ample suspects—from both sides of Canal Street.
Edgar-finalist Thompson's eye-opening ninth Gaslight mystery (after 2006's Murder in Little Italy) examines the culture clash in early 20th-century New York City between Chinese and Irish immigrants, whose poverty prompted many of them to intermarry. While midwife Sarah Brandt is attending pregnant Cora Lee, "a strapping Irish girl" whose husband is a successful Chinese merchant, Cora's teenage half-Chinese niece, Angel, bursts into Cora's Chinatown flat and asks Cora to save her from an arranged marriage to Mr. Wong, an elderly Chinese restaurant owner. When Angel later disappears, Sarah investigates and learns the missing girl had a secret lover, a young Irishman. After Angel winds up dead in an alley, Sarah turns to her detective friend, Frank Malloy, for help. The action of this thought-provoking novel with its vivid portrait of the miseries of tenement life builds to an unexpected climax.