Monday, July 5, 2021

Book Review: Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #17)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters as always
Cons: Mystery not quite as strong as most in the series
The Bottom Line:
Helping family friends
Characters’ lives progressing
Fun for series fans

Poisoner on the Lose

The Gaslight Mysteries are still in transition with Murder on Amsterdam Avenue.  It only makes sense since main characters Frank Malloy and Sarah Brandt are going through some major changes in their lives.  As a loyal reader, I would be upset if we didn’t get to see these moments of transition for them since we’ve been invested in their lives for so long.

If you are new to the series, it is set in 1890’s New York City.  When we first met them, Frank was a Detective Sergeant with the New York City police and Sarah was a midwife.  They kept finding themselves thrown together in cases of violent death, and eventually fell in love.  However, it was only after Frank inherited quite a bit of money that they began to really see a future for them together.

As this book opens, Frank has moved into the house they will share after they get married, but they have to wait until restoration is done on the house to actually get married, and the workers are taking their sweet time about it.  Meanwhile, Sarah accompanies her mother on a condolence call to the home of the Oakes family.  Charles suddenly got sick and died a few days later.  The Oakes have been friends with Sarah’s family for years, and so, on the visit, Charles’s father asks if Frank will investigate the death.  He thinks that something is not right about it.  It isn’t long before Frank confirms that Charles was poisoned.  But who would poison him?

Part of the transition the series is going through is figuring out how Frank and Sarah will find themselves involved in more mysteries since they are no longer employed now that they are rich in their own right.  I’m curious to see how that goes as the series progresses, but I’ve always enjoyed the creativity that author Victoria Thompson has employed in the past, so I’m not worried she will continue to find great cases for them to solve.

While this is a historical series, it’s not often that real history creeps into the book.  Most often, it’s the rich setting that gives us the historical atmosphere, and I’ve got no complaints about that.  Here, some recent events and history plays a part of the mystery and the character’s lives.  I’ll leave you to discover exactly what that is.

I am usually drawn into these books and find myself hard pressed to return to the present when I have to set them down.  That was the case again here.  However, I also felt like the story was moving slowly, which I often don’t feel.  I think the problem was that I guessed a large part of the solution early on.  I didn’t quite have the particulars figured out, but I still was frustrated waiting for the characters to catch up.  Having said that, we do still get some interesting complications on the way to the satisfying climax.

While Frank and Sarah are the stars of the series, I always enjoy it when we see more of the supporting players.  That’s the case here, especially Gino and Maeve.  I loved their scenes and watching how they are developing.

Murder on Amsterdam Avenue isn’t the strongest entry in the series, but fans will still be very glad they read it.  If you are new to the Gaslight Mysteries, it wouldn’t be best to jump in here, however, since what fans will love about this book won’t mean as much to you.

Check out the rest of the Gaslight Mysteries.

1 comment:

  1. I love this series but only started reading it in the last few books. I need to go back and start at the beginning. I don't mind a transition book now and then but it's always good to know going in that the mystery isn't as strong.


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