Thursday, April 5, 2012

Murder On Fifth Avenue-Victoria Thompson

Murder On Fifth Avenue

Victoria Thompson

Berkley Prime Crime, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425247419

Chief of Detective O’Brien sends a note to Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy ordering him to meet with affluent Felix Decker at the ultra-exclusive Knickerbocker Club. Frank knows never to ignore his boss or powerful men like Decker, father of his friend midwife Sarah Brandt. He hustles over there; where adding to his surprise, Decker asks him to investigate the death of club member Chilton Devries. Furthermore, he says the undertaker had arrived at the club to take away the corpse but noticed blood; Devries was stabbed to death. Finally, Decker insists no club member would kill a peer and that if the killer can go before the city’s justice so be it, but if not the club will mete out justice.

Frank investigates starting with the surviving family; not one of whom feel any grief towards the abusive Paul. Sarah and her mother assist Frank as he interviews a horde of other people elated with Devrie’s death; they insist their only regret was they did not stab the SOB. A second related homicide complicates the already complex case.

This is an engaging Gaslight Mystery (see Murder on Sister’s Row, Murder on Waverly Place and Murder on Lexington Avenue) as the Irish catholic cop and the wealthy midwife enter the exclusive circle of the untouchable one tenth of one percent men of power. Action-packed, the whodunit is clever, but it is the setting especially the social issues of the early twentieth century, which still thrive in the early twenty-first century that makes Victoria Thompson’s investigative tale a terrific historical.

Harriet Klausner

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