Murder in the Bowery (A Gaslight Mystery #20) by Victoria Thompson 

This time around, Private Inspector (and former policeman) Frank Malloy is hired by a man looking for his little brother, whom he was separated from five years previous, when he was shipped out on the Orphan Train into Minnesota. Malloy buys the story and begins searching for the kid, who is now working on the streets as a newsie. He inquires and is led to a young man known as “Two Toes”, aka Freddie. Freddie reacts in a terrified manner when Malloy informs him that his brother Will hired him and wants to reunite with him, running off in a hurry. Shortly after, he’s found strangled. Malloy is filled with guilt, and tells his wife and partner in crime Sarah, that he feels responsible and will bring the killer(s) to justice. Malloy’s card is found in Freddie’s possession, so the coroner calls him to identify the body. While in there, he notices the corpse of a beautiful young lady who obviously was of a higher class set than poor Freddie. He informs older brother Will that he found his younger brother, but that he is dead. Will then tells a tale of a young lady, Estelle, a young lady of higher standing obligations, who has dangerous habits. Namely, hanging out in the Bowery, which is no place for someone of her social stature to be hanging out. Turns out, Estelle is the corpse that Frank saw in the morgue when he went to identify Freddie’s body. Frank enlists the help of his wife, Sarah, in trying to unravel these two mysterious deaths. Estelle’s family is a real trip. Not the good kind. Her dad is supposedly dying and doesn’t seem to care that his daughter has been murdered. Her sister and nephew also don’t seem to care that she’s dead. Frank and Sarah vow to get to the bottom of this, but not before realizing that Estelle was also the lover of the town’s gangster about town, Black Jack Robinson. They have to break the bad news to him, but he ends up hiring Frank to get to the bottom of Estelle’s death. Did her mean-spirited family dinner in? Was it the double dealing Will? Another mystery lover? And what is the connection between her and Freddie’s deaths? You get a few more surprises and curve balls thrown at you, but the ending wrapped up a little bit too cleanly for me. Sadly, I also took a guess at what evil her family had been committing, and I was right on that front, too. Anytime I guess that many things right, the book loses a bit of appeal for me. Fans of this series will cite the chemistry between the husband and wife crime solving unit, and that’s in evidence here. However, the family unit that has been in place for much of the last ten books- Malloy’s mom, his deaf son Brian, and Sarah’s adopted girl, Catherine, are NOWHERE to be found. Malloy’s mom gets a small cameo, as does nosy neighbor Mrs. Ellsworth, but they have largely vanished from this book. Maeve, the governess for Catherine and Brian, is there throughout the book, but- where the fuck are the kids?! In an installment of the series where the affection-deprived and evil Longacres take center stage through the book, you would think Thompson would bring a balance of a good family dynamic to ward off the evil family. Nope. And that cemented this as four stars. That and the ending that seemed really far-fetched, plus I had already figured it out. Not as awesome as the usual installment would be. I hope the kids are found alive in time for the next book! 

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~ by generationgbooks on May 23, 2017.

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