Midwife Sarah Brandt braves the dangers of the tenements in nineteenth-century New York to help the impoverished and, with Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy, bring the guilty that prey on them to justice. Now, the latest novel in the Edgar®-nominated series finds Sarah compelled to save an expectant mother from a fate worse than death…
Summoned to an elegant house to deliver a baby, Sarah finds her patient is actually in a brothel. The young woman in labor reveals she is being held against her will and forced to prostitute herself—and that the madam intends to get rid of the baby.
To rescue the new mother and her infant, Sarah secures the assistance of Mrs. Vivian Van Orner, a woman of means known for her charitable work. But their success comes at a high price when Mrs.Van Orner is found murdered.
With Malloy’s help, Sarah’s investigation uncovers some unpleasant truths about the victim and her charity—as well as the woman and child Sarah risked her own life to save…
Thompson's otherwise solid 13th whodunit set at the end of the 19th century in New York City (after 2010's Murder on Lexington Avenue) lags a bit until the appearance of a corpse. Sarah Brandt, an heiress who works by choice as a midwife, gets an urgent summons on behalf of a Mrs. Walker to assist a woman in labor at a house that Sarah belatedly learns is a brothel. After Sarah successfully delivers a baby boy, the terrified mother, Amy Cunningham, begs Sarah to help her escape the clutches of her madam, Rowena Walker. The midwife reaches out to a charitable organization, Rahab's Daughters, which specializes in rescuing fallen women in Amy's straits. When the charity's involvement leads to murder, Sarah's significant other, Det. Sgt. Frank Malloy, can't prevent her from investigating. Thompson does her usual persuasive job in recreating the past.
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A fast paced romp
I have read all the other Gaslight Mysteries. This is not my favorite. It is a good addition to the variety of the series. There are times when the explanations and conversations are chaotic. As always, there is great color and a sense of place and time.