Sarah Brandt is shattered when she learns that a woman has inquired at the Daughters of Hope Mission for Catherine, the abandoned child she has taken as her daughter. The woman claims she was Catherine’s nursemaid, and is now acting on behalf of the girl’s mother to reunite them.
Unwilling to simply hand Catherine over to a complete stranger, Sarah asks Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to investigate. But when he goes to interview the woman at her tenement in Chelsea, he finds she has been murdered.
Though her death leaves Sarah’s claim to Catherine unchallenged, her sense of justice compels her to work with Malloy to find the killer. Their search takes them from the marble mansions of the Upper West Side to the dilapidated dwellings of lower Manhattan and into the deepest and darkest secrets of Catherine’s past.
And while Malloy helps Sarah determine the fate of the child she loves, he faces a challenge of his own—and his decision could change both their lives forever…
Before a resolution that will strike many as too pat, Thompson injects both suspense and pathos into her 15th mystery set in late-19th-century New York City (after 2012 s Murder on Fifth Avenue). Widowed midwife Sarah Brandt has cause for alarm. Anne Murphy claims to be the nursemaid of Catherine, the almost-five-year-old girl whom Brandt would like to adopt but can t because a single woman can t adopt. Murphy says that Catherine had a wealthy father and was left at Brandt s mission to save the child s life from a half-sibling who wanted to safeguard his inheritance. But before these allegations can be verified, someone stabs Murphy to death. The murder suggests that the danger to Catherine is real, and Brandt again turns to her longtime love interest, NYPD Sgt. Frank Malloy, for help. A sappy ending undercuts a persuasive look at the divide between the city s haves and have-nots at the time.