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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Opener to Popular Mystery Series A Bit Ho-Hum

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York City, Sarah Brandt feels as if she's seen it all.  Still, when she comes across the strangled corpse of a 16-year-old girl while attending to a new mother in a shabby boardinghouse, she's stunned.  Not only because of the brutality of the murder, but also because she knows the victim.  Alicia Van Damm is the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family—a family with whom Sarah is acquainted.  What was Alicia doing in the squalid tenements?  How did she end up both pregnant and dead?  

The Van Damms fear nothing more than a scandal.  Sarah, however, can't bear to let the brutal killing go unpunished.  With the help of Frank Malloy, a taciturn police detective, she takes it upon herself to investigate the crime.  The more she digs, the more dangerous her life becomes.  Can Sarah find Alicia's killer before the murderer finds Sarah?  It's a prospect that's looking more and more unlikely ...

Murder on Astor Place, the first installment of Victoria Thompson's popular Gaslight Mystery series, is an atmospheric, engrossing novel.  It gets points for a vivid setting and for an interesting heroine, who's both brave and determined.  Frank is not as likable; perhaps that's why I felt no real chemistry between him and Sarah.  The plot of Murder on Astor Place is unoriginal and a bit slow.  I saw the big reveal coming from miles away.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed this novel overall.  I didn't love it, so I'm not sure I'll continue with the series.  Lots of readers love the Gaslight Mystery series, which will reach 22 installments in 2019, so I may give it another chance.  Or not.  We'll see.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of the Below Stairs mysteries [Death Below Stairs; Scandal Above Stairs] by Jennifer Ashley)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought an e-copy of Murder on Astor Place from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. The chemistry between Sarah and Frank improves with each novel. I say find a plot that interests you from the second or third book and give this series one more try. Because I think Thompson's subsequent novels are better than this first one. :)

  2. There are so many good books out there it is a disappointment when we read one that is just meh.


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