Murder in Morningside Heights (Gaslight Mystery)
by Victoria Thompson
Cover Artist: Karen Chandler
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781101987094
Date: 02 May 2017 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
NOTE: This review first appeared in our June 2016 issue of Gumshoe Review.
Nineteenth in Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series, Murder in Morningside Heights again features private detective Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah nee Brandt as they investigate the murder of a young woman. The victim, Abigail Northrup, was a professor at the Normal School of Manhattan, an institute that trained young woman as teachers.
Abigail lived with two other teachers and had no known enemies. However, as Frank and Sarah investigate, it becomes apparent all is not what it seems. They also find some letters hidden in the springs under Abigail's mattress. Some are from a school friend, but other are from a man anxious to marry Abigail. They also discover some letters in French.
Considered an excellent teacher, most students had a crush on Abigail. No one knows of any enemies. However, as the investigation continues, Frank and Sarah learn that perhaps at least one teacher was less than fond of the young woman.
Neither Sarah nor Frank can read French so Sarah's mother enlists the help of an old friend to obtain a translation of the letters. They were answers from a small village in France.
Frank concludes the murder was one of rage on the spur of the moment and may have been unintentional. The weapon was a screwdriver.
Most of the professors at the college are men. The only woman professor is Abigail's landlady. Prejudice against unmarried working women is clearly present at the college despite its all female student body. Academic rivalry is alive and well at the college.
Frank and Sarah are now married and working together although Sarah is no longer actively working as a midwife. Gino, a former policeman, and Maeve, their nanny, continue as part of their investigative team. Concerted effort and cleverness are required to uncover the murderer but not before another death occurs.
Thompson captures period detail well and provides sympathetic characters, especially Frank and Sarah. The identity of the murderer will surprise many readers. Fortunately for dedicated readers, more Gaslight Mysteries are planned.