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Using all the illegal tricks at her disposal, Hester Jane Haskins is everything Becky is not. She keeps her prostitutes trapped and drugged inside an old theater in the Tenderloin. She kidnaps them using well-dressed couples such as John Allen and his wife, Little Susie, who promise the girls a life on the stage, but they end up as slaves to Haskins.
Becky Charming declares a “women’s civil war” on Haskins and the Tammany Hall political bandits who support her and her style of corrupt brothel management. Not only does Charming want O’Malley to help her, but our detective also enlists the aid of Plug Uglies leader Walter McKenzie and three of his best men. In his first cooperation with New York City’s Superintendent of Police, O’Malley works with the only honest copper left in the city, John Andrew Kennedy, who agrees to help O’Malley in his attempt to find enough on Jane the Grabber to put her out of business forever.
In the sub-plot, Becky also wants to gain respect for all women, and this leads to finding the key in the final mystery of how to stop Hester Jane “the Grabber” Haskins from taking over all of New York City’s brothels. Becky uses her guile and intelligence to discover just how important it is to get the public behind you when you want to stop corruption in high places.
Jim Musgrave’s Jane the Grabber is both a mystery and a war between two of the most powerful women in New York City. Musgrave’s historical accuracy is again most revealing, as he weaves actual history into his spell-binding plot to create a powerful read. The female characters in this mystery will be remembered long afterward.