Friday, August 03, 2007

Murder in Chinatown - Victoria Thompson

Murder in Chinatown
A Gaslight Mystery
Victoria Thompson
Berkley Prime Crime


In turn-of-the-century New York, the only ethnic group more hated than the Irish is the Chinese. So maybe it’s not so surprising that many immigrants from these two groups decide to marry. On what should be a happy day for Cora Lee, the birth of her first son, trouble descends on the Lee household. Cora’s teenaged niece, Angel, one of the mixed-race children, has disappeared. Distraught at the prospect of marrying the man her parents chose for her, she packed up her clothes and left. Sara Brandt, midwife to Cora and veteran of several investigations, knows just as well as the Lee family that alerting the police would be pointless. Unless there’s a dead body or an arrest to be made, the police stay out of Chinatown.

But Sarah can’t help but worry about the innocent girl, and the various fates that might befall her on the dangerous streets of New York. She helps the family by asking questions of the girl’s friends. But things end badly when Angel’s body is found in an alley behind the tenement where she’d been living. Calling on her friend, Detective Sergeant Frank Malley, Sarah tries to piece together what really happened to Angel. With so much hatred for both sides of Angel’s family, there’s certainly no shortage of suspects.

As always, the author imbues the story with period details that brilliantly evoke the time and place. If you haven’t read other books in the series, you’ll no doubt want to go back and start from the beginning, even though it isn’t necessary to understanding the background. If you’ve been following the series for a while, there’s more information about the home lives of Sarah and Frank; and more developments in Frank’s independent investigation into the death of Sarah’s husband. Fans of historical mysteries won’t want to miss this smartly written series.

Rating: 8
June 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21531-9 (hardcover)


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