As I mentioned in my last “From the library” post, I’d reserved Victoria Thompson’s latest entry in her Gaslight Mystery series. This one is Murder on Sisters’ Row, and is the 13th book in the series. The book arrived at my local branch and I picked it up on Thursday after my volunteer shift was over. I finished it by Saturday afternoon and have to say that I was surprised by the identity of the killer.
This series focuses on two characters: Sarah Brandt (a midwife) and Frank Malloy (a police detective). They live in 1890s Manhattan and they solve mysteries together. It sounds simplistic, but it works. In this book, Sarah gets called in to deliver a baby in what turns out to be a brothel on what was called “Sisters’ Row.” Amy, the prostitute who gives birth, begs Sarah to get her out of there, and that’s what starts the story in motion. I had a couple of suspects in mind, and truly did not guess “whodunnit.”
Thompson brings in lots of historical detail to the books and, as a former Manhattanite, I really appreciate it. I said in that earlier post that these books serve as a reminder of just how little Manhattan has actually changed over the years. Well, the other day, the US cable channel “Turner Classic Movies” (“TCM” — they own the entire MGM movie library) showed an MGM short from 1949 that focused on Manhattan. And, despite the fact that the Pan Am/MetLife Building wasn’t there yet, the area around Grand Central Terminal was instantly recognizable to me. The Waldorf hasn’t changed, nor has the Intercontinental Hotel, or the façade of Grand Central, or the Lincoln Building, or the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. In other words, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.