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Murder on Washington Square: A Gaslight Mystery Mass Market Paperback – April 2, 2002
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I hadn’t realized how much I’ve come to enjoy this series until I picked up the book. I was immediately lost in the world of 1890’s New York City, and Sarah and Frank are outstanding guides. They lead a cast of strong characters, and I love watching them interact and their slow burn romance. I did figure some things out early, but I was still glued to the page as there were twists and complications I didn’t see coming.
I love this series, the characters, and the historical setting of late 1800 New York City. Sarah’s family is among the wealthiest in New York, decedents of the original Dutch settlers, nicknames the Knickerbockers. Sarah has a mind of her own working in the poor sections of town as a mid-wife, much to the chagrin of her parents, especially her father.
Frank is an Irish, Catholic police detective in a time in history when the NYC cops were extremely corrupt. Most crimes are solved for people who can pay a reward to the police to work the case. Before Frank met Sarah, that is the way he worked a case. However, Sarah inspires him to consider that the poorer people need resolution and closure too.
I love Mrs. Ellsworth. She is the neighborhood watchdog, busy body. She can be irritating butting into everyone’s business, but she is a lonely widow. Nelson is her pride and joy; having him accused of murder is devastating for them.
While the books are slightly predictable, but there is an unexpected twist that I didn’t see coming. The relationship journey that Sarah and Frank travel is very entertaining. Theirs is a slow, slow burn as they hide their feelings from one another. It is obvious that Frank and Sarah are falling in love. However, their social classes dictate that they can’t be together. Frank promises himself that he is going to stay away from Sarah. Mainly he feels that he doesn’t deserve a woman of her breeding. Their banter is fun as Sarah stands up to Frank and calls him on his attitude often.
I’m going to try to read a couple more books in this series before I return from winter break. The more I read, the more I want to know what happens next.
Thompson’s description of early New York, with its quick divisions between the rich (both new and old) and the impoverished newcomers, is full of fascinating details. [My ancestors were part of the latter society, and it’s interesting to better understand the barriers and limitations that they faced. Moreover, the setting of this book is a section of New York where I spent many hours, sitting around and absorbing the crowds that are the substance of Washington Square. And the wonderful Strand Bookstore which took many of my hours (and dollars)].
These gaslight mysteries are always entertaining, but wouldn’t all those wealthy men coming and going from a middle class boarding house run into each other? And if Anna took as much cash from other “victims” as she seems to have taken from Gilbert Giddings, she would have retired to a country estate months ago.
However, something has been bothering me about this one. Mr Giddings was perfectly sober, properly dressed, afraid that his wife might discover he'd become a cheater, and presented his card as still working for the law firm rm two days after Anne Blake's body was found. And yet, as the story evolves, we find a Mr Giddings who had already lost his job, lost his wits to the bottle to the point that he spent he night of the murder in jail, and his family had already been forced to sell all their belongings to pay back his embezzlement. So... who was the real Mr Giddings?