Following on the heels of Stefanie Pintoff's acclaimed and award-winning debut, A Curtain Falls is a moody and evocative tale that follows Ziele and his partners as they scour the dark streets of early-twentieth-century New York in search of a true fiend.
The careers of New York City detective Simon Ziele and his former partner Captain Declan Mulvaney went in remarkably different directions after the tragic death of Ziele's fiancée in the 1904 General Slocum ferry disaster. Although both men were earmarked for much bigger things, Ziele moved to Dobson, a small town north of the city, to escape the violence, and Mulvaney buried himself even deeper, agreeing to head up the precinct in the most crime-ridden area in the city.
Yet with all of the detectives and resources at Mulvaney's disposal, a particularly puzzling crime compels him to look for someone he can trust absolutely. When a chorus girl is found dead on a Broadway stage dressed in the leading lady's costume, there are no signs of violence, no cuts, no bruises—no marks at all. If pressed, the coroner would call it a suicide, but then that would make her the second girl to turn up dead in such a manner in the last few weeks. And the news of a possible serial killer would be potentially disastrous to the burgeoning theater world, not to mention the citizens of New York.
Set in New York City in 1906, Pintoff's worthy sequel to her Edgar-finalist debut, In the Shadow of Gotham (2009), finds Det. Simon Zeile pursuing another sensational case. When chorus girl Annie Germaine turns up dead on a Manhattan theatrical stage, dressed in the outfit of the company's leading lady, Broadway impresario Charles Frohman asks the authorities to keep the tragedy as quiet as possible so the news won't affect the box office receipts. Next to Annie's body, which shows no marks of violence, is a cryptic note. Zeile soon learns that another actress, presumed to be a suicide, was found dead on another stage three weeks earlier, dressed up with a similar note next to her body. Certain that a serial killer is at work, the detective again consults criminologist Alistair Sinclair, who helped him investigate in the previous book. A larger pool of suspects would have benefited the plot, but the convincing period detail and expert storytelling will hook most readers.
This was an excellent book.