This is the first in Victoria Thompson's "Gaslight" mystery series set in early 1900's New York. I really was prepared to not like this book as this time period is not my favorite for historical mysteries (I prefer earlier middle ages/medieval times), but I found myself very pleasantly surprised. Sarah Brandt is a widow and midwife who gave up a life of luxury to continue practicing after her physician husband Thomas was brutally killed. She works for pittance--and sometimes not even that--among the city's poor, must to the dismay of her well-born family who are direct Mayflower descendents. In this first book, the young sister of an old school friend of Sarah's is found murdered in a boardinghouse where Sarah has gone to treat the owner of the house. The first mystery--what would a young woman from a wealthy family be doing in a squalid boardinghouse--is part of the mystery of who killed her. Very well done book with a few surprises that made it all the more interesting. An excellent start to a promising series.
This well-written mystery is set in turn-of-the-century New York City and introduces series protagonists --midwife Sarah Brandt and NYPD Police Detective Frank Malloy. While following up on a newly-delivered mother and child, midwife Sarah Brandt finds herself dragged into investigationg the murder of a young girl who was a roomer in theboarding house run by the new mother. But when Sarah discovers that the murdered girl is an old friend of her family, she wants to find the murderer and bring him to justice. This is the first story in this series, and I enjoyed it very much. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series!
This was a wonderful book! I haven't read much historical fiction, but Thompson portrays a late 19th century New York in all of its gritty and aristocratic splendor. Sarah Brandt, an independent woman who makes her living as a midwife, finds herself helping a tough New York detective solve a murder involving a young heiress.
The story moves along as a good pace, and the descriptions of the city, both good and bad, and the social classes, the who, what and why of the aristocracy is splendid, and I learned a lot about the customs of the time.
A wonderful mystery and interesting characters have made me want to read more of Victoria Thompson.
Aside from some grammatical errors ("it's" for "its" twice in one sentence!), and virtually no information about Sarah's midwifery career, which was my interest in the book to begin with, I did enjoy Murder on Astor Place. Sarah, a widowed midwife in New York City around 1900, and Malloy, a police detective trying to do right by his son, band together to solve a scandalous murder case that the family of the murdered girl would rather be hushed up. I'm eager to read the series' remaining books. First in a series; sequels include Murder on St. Mark's Place, Murder on Gramercy Park, Murder on Washington Square, Murder on Mulberry Bend, Murder on Marble Row, and Murder on Lenox Hill.
This is a good cozy mystery with a historical fiction background of New York City in the 1890s. Sarah Brandt was born to a wealthy family and she could have lived a life of leisure in society. Sarah who is a strong and proud woman has rejected the life of luxury and has (shockingly) chosen to make her own living as a midwife.
Sarah is drawn into solving a murder mystery with a New York City detective because she was delivering a baby on the night the murder took place and recognizes the young girl as a member of a wealthy, influential family. She can move among the wealthy, elite society as well as the poor working class and through her eyes we see the customs of both the privileged society and the impoverished of Manhattan in this time period.
This is an easy, quick read with some historical background. The mystery was good and I didnt guess the murderer before the end.
This author, Victoria Thompson, knows her stuff. Not only does she write a crack-up mystery (cozy tyoe) but she reproduces the life and times of New York City at the turn of the last century. The books all have "A Gaslight Mystery" as a subtitle, which sets it in the early years of the 1900s. Everything Thompson mentions fills out the mores and morals of the "good old days."
I'm not usually a mystery reader, so I don't know how Thompson stacks up to other mystery writers. I read this book because it takes place in the neighborhood where I live, because I love reading historical depictions of NYC, and because the main character is a midwife. All of those aspects were interesting. The "mystery" itself was fine - I didn't guess who did it (well not until near the end), nor did I find the solution completely implausible, though it was more, shall we say extreme, than I thought it would be. The writing was a bit clunky at times; for example, Thompson goes to pains to point out social mores which were of tremendous importance at the time but which have now become completely extinct. These details are necessary for the setting of the book, but I wonder if they could have been presented a bit more gracefully. Overall, however, I thought it was a satisfying, enjoyable read, with a vivid depiction of Manhattan, and the people who lived there, in the late 1800's. Although The Alienist is characterized by far more elaborate writing, if you liked the setting and themes of that book, you will probably enjoy this one.
Karyn G. reviewed Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 2
Ooh, I'm hooked on this series now! Historical mysteries are my favorite and there's something about turn-of-the-century New York that alwasys draws me in. The characters are engaging, the plot twisty, and the atmosphere evocative. . . everything I'm looking for in a weekend read.
I really enjoyed this first book in the "Gaslight" Victorian Mystery series..We meet Sarah Brandtt a nurse midwife in turn of the century New York city..She is the widow of Dr.Thomas Brandt who was murdered several years before. His murder was never solved. Sarah is of a well to do background who is at odds with her family because of her chosen life and profession. She meets Detective Francis Malloy during a murder investigation and they are at loggerheads almost from the start..We are introduced to the mores and attitudes toward "the upper class" and the police. I am looking forward to future books to see how the relationship between Sarah Brandt and Detective Sargeant Francis Malloy develops......
The first of the series featuring midwife Sarah Brandt and Sgt. Malloy. If you read this one, you'll want to read all the ones that have followed, both for the great mysteries and for the developing relationship between these characters.
Well written and wonderfully atmospheric. The mystery was grim and not difficult to see coming, but that actually did not dim my enjoyment of this literate mystery. An introduction to two interesting characters in the police officer and the midwife woh resolved the murder together.
I'm so glad I discovered this mystery series. There's much more here than in the usual light cozy! This first book in the series of a midwife in the "gaslight" years in NYC is fascinating. The interesting characters, the chilling plots, and the historical setting are all perfectly executed. Well-done and very hard to put down.
Sarah Brandt grew up in a moneyed and influential family in turn of the century New York City, but due to marrying for love rather than status, she is now a widowed midwife trying to help those of the low social classes all the while needing to keep herself from becoming one of the destitute. Having had no contact with her parents since the death of her husband, she must rely on herself, so when called to help with the delivery of a baby at a boarding house, Sarah spies a young girl who looks remarkably like a friend she had during her 'society' days. Returning to the boarding house the next day to check on the new baby and mother, Sarah is shocked to learn that the girl has been murdered.
Enter Frank Malloy, a NYC police detective, who has some morals in a corrupt department. He questions Sarah and finds to his dismay that she is not easily intimidated like most people in the lower income bracket. He enlists her to help search the young girl's room in an attempt to rattle Sarah and there they find identification indicating that the murdered girl was the daughter of a highly placed social family and the younger sister of a former friend of Sarah's. From here starts an uneasy working relationship between Frank and Sarah. The young girl's family is more concerned about scandal and being ostracized in society if the truth of the murder comes out which makes finding the girl's killer to be a daunting task. Sarah is willing to get information and pass it on; Frank isn't so sure he wants her help even when Sarah comes up with more than he does. However, Malloy soon realizes that he is going to need all the help he can get even if it does come from a person in a profession that he despises.
Naturally, there will be a couple more murders along the way, but the entire plot is in keeping with the social and political requirements of the time. (In fact, this book had shades of Anne Perry's style.) Class distinction is rampant, no one trusts the police department, Sarah has her own issues with the police, and Malloy has his personal issues with midwifery. Nothing is sugar coated. The interaction between the two characters is realistic and even though there are minor hints that a relationship may develop, it's going to take a long time.
If you are like me, you won't see the ending coming. It is very well done.
I had stumbled across this series quite by chance and decided to give the first book a try. I think I have found the start of a new book series relationship, and I will definitely be looking for the next book!
The setting and details of the time period were a cool spin on the book, however I figured out half of the mystery half way through the book. It was still a good read. I was not bored and didn't think about not finishing it...had to make sure I was right!
Well written mystery. The author did an excellent job of capturing the social aspect of the times. She made you want to know more about the characters, but not at the expense of moving the story along. I'll definitely read more of this series.
I thought the book was well written, although I figured out why the young girl was killed early on, but not who had done the deed. As for the historical accuracy that other reviewers praise, I can't argue with that as I have no knowledge of this time period.
What bothered me was the reason the young girl was killed. And a survey of other books in this series reveals that young girls are the victims again and again. Basically what we have here is what has become the NYT standard of mystery writing: crimes revolving around sordid sex.
There are too many other good historical mysteries to read for me to waste my time with this series. Plus, the end of the two people who needed to be punished was just too contrived for me to accept.
But I'll make someone happy as I'm posting this book after I finish writing the review.
Excellent start to a great mystery series that also contains a hint of budding romance between 2 unlikely people at opposite ends of the social scale. I was happy to find this book on PBS, to look back at how the whole series started, and I wasn't disappointed!
The first one of this series for me. Another one that was recommended by 'my library friend'. She keeps me from getting stuck in one era. This time I am in the Victorian Era, but in New York City, not London, England. The heroine is a mid-wife (not sure that I want a whole series dealing with birthing babies) and the hero is a detective on the police force. Luckily, there was only one birth in this story. The mystery was the main focus. It seems to be a simple mystery, but the solution is quite involved. I think I'll like the H/H so I'll continue the series. Right now: Recommend.
I found this title on a 100 must read list and I was excited about it, but I just couldnt seem to get in to the book once I started reading. I put it down several times. Typically a new book is lucky to make it 2 days with me, this one sat around for over a month and I only finished it when I did because I saw someone else was wishing for it. I simply didnt feel anything for the characters. No emotional connection. The period is written well but it left me cold for some reason.
This was okay, but I loved the historical NYC setting. This was very reminiscent of Caleb Carr's novels, which I loved. I did like that I figured out one crucial part of the story a few pages before it was revealed ;)
Very well done, editing errors, but doesn't take away from the story, IMHO. I just finished a series about Victorian England and if they thought their "toffs" were the elite, then they are sadly mistaken, they don't even hold a candle to the so called "nobs" of NY society. What an ugly bunch they are and Sarah's treatment by her parents is typical. Book very historically sound and much like others I have read over the years about high society at this time. The story also proves that there is nothing new under the sun and depravity has existed throughout the ages. It is a great mystery and moves right along. The characters are great to read about, having their own stories as a background for the primary story. Look forward to the next one am anxious to see how it all works out with these two very strong personalities.
This is the first book in Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries Series. We are introduced to midwife Sarah Brandt and find out how she comes to be involved with investigating murders with Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. This book gives the reader some insight into the backstories of Frank and Sarah, which make appearances in future books in the series and help revel their motives as characters. This is a great start to the series and really throws the reader into turn-of-the-century NYC.
The mystery in this book revolves around a young woman who was murdered in a boarding house where Sarah recently delivered a baby to the owner. Sarah felt the girl looked familiar when she briefly saw her, then realizes that this young girl is the youngest daughter of a prosperous family she knew growing up. Sarah must reconcile the three year separation she had with her wealthy parents in order to help Frank solve the case. Victoria Thompson gives the reader enough clues throughout the story to help you piece it together as you go, though does leave one shocking piece of evidence until nearly the very end! Read it, you won't be disappointed!
A really great start to the Gaslight Mysteries! Id been wanting to start this series for over a year and finally sat down to take it on. I wish I hadn't waited so long.
Though I have a long way to go to catch up with the newer released books in this series, its a great thing. I can just binge read, back to back, knowing the stories will keep on rolling.
I thought the author did wonderfully in describing the people and times during the Victorian period. I felt like I could see, smell, hear it all. Instantly transported to the busy New York City streets of the time.
A unique read in where the main character is a midwife, young but full of life and spirit. Intelligent, witty and caring, all of this in a lady who puts a crime scene together, discovering who the perpetrator in the murder could be.
I recommend this series!
Just finished this one and I'm undecided. The ending was good although I could see it coming from quite a ways. But the ending almost didn't make up for all the plodding I had to do to get there. I don't know if I'll pursue the remainder of the series. And I was so looking forward to this one! bc the setting in Victorian NYC is a favorite of mine. But I'm tossing back the first of the Gaslight Mysteries, if anyone's interested.
Widow Sarah Brandt is a midwife in late 19th century New York City. When she is called out to Astor Place to attend Mrs. Higgins at the Higgins Boardinghouse, she believes she recognizes one of the boarders. The girls looks just like her old friend Mina when she was the same age. When Sarah goes back to the boardinghouse two days later to check on the mother and child, she finds that the girl has been murdered. Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy has been sent to investigate. He has ambitions to move up in the police force and knows he must save his money to pay a substantial bribe to do so. He's not sure he wants to waste his time investigating a murder that will not lead to more money for himself. Sarah knows about the corruption in the police community and pressures Malloy into looking into the crime.
This is a wonderful start to the Gaslight Mystery series. Both Sarah and Frank are interesting characters. I'm interested in learning more about them. The mystery moved along quickly. I figured out most of the clues as I read it, but was surprised by a revelation near the end of the book. The setting of turn of the century New York City is very well written. It makes you feel like you are really there. I look forward to more books in this series. My rating: 4.5 Stars.
As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York, Sarah Brandt has seen pain and joy. Now she will work for something more--a search for justice--in a case of murder involving one of New York's richest families.