The Unquiet Dead
The new Gilded Age mystery featuring the uniquely talented Amelia Matthew—who has the ability to communicate with the dead—as she uses her special talents to solve the murder of a young girl whose death has scandalized New York City.
Three months after her harrowing experience on Blackwell’s Island, Amelia is settling back into her work at the nightclub and doing her best to come to terms with her new ability to commune with the spirit world. The last thing she wants to do is hunt another killer through the streets of Gilded Age New York. But when she and her brother Jonas discover the body—and spirit—of a young girl whose recent kidnapping electrified the city, Amelia’s resolve wavers. It breaks entirely when a fifteen-year-old boy—the son of one of the club’s Black waiters and his Irish immigrant wife—is accused of the crime.
Amelia and Jonas have to find the real murderer, and they have to do it quickly: in five days, the boy will be transferred to the brutal Sing Sing prison to await trial. For such a notorious suspect, it’s as good as a death sentence. With the city in an uproar and an ambitious reporter watching their every move, they race to uncover the truth. But as the evidence increasingly points to the boy's guilt, Amelia and Jonas are forced to wonder: are they saving an innocent, or working to free a killer?
Set in 1893 Manhattan, Murphy's stellar sequel to 2021's A Deadly Fortune finds Amelia Matthew struggling to master her vulnerability to the spirits of the dead and Jonas Vincent, her brother and investigative partner, traumatized by a recent gunshot wound. After five-year-old Ginny Holloway is kidnapped, her body is found on the street with 15-year-old laundry worker Amos Alston beside it. When Amos, the son of a Black waiter at the upscale nightclub where Amelia and Jonas work, is arrested for Ginny's murder, attorney Sidney White agrees to help the siblings clear him. A brutal beating prompts Amos to confess, and the trio's initial sleuthing implicates him more deeply. Absent from home at the time of the abduction, he became friendly with Ginny during laundry deliveries to her family's opulent mansion. As Jonas and Sidney investigate, they must hide their mutual attraction, and Amelia reencounters Andrew Cavanaugh, the handsome doctor she met during her last case. Convincing characterizations, taut plotting, and vivid depiction of the class, gender, and racial tensions roiling Gilded Age New York make this entry a standout. Murphy is a historical writer to watch. Agent: Jill Marr, Sandra Dijkstra Literary.