Thursday, April 7, 2022

Book Review: Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #20)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, historical backdrop, good mystery
Cons: Very adult storyline
The Bottom Line:
Tracking a newsie
Gets Frank involved in murder
More adult than some

Death of a Newsie

Like many, I am a fan of the Disney film Newsies.  (Yes, I am well aware it isn’t historically accurate.)  So when I realized that Murder in the Bowery in Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries series was going to be set during the newsie’s strike, I got excited.  While it turned out to only be part of the backdrop to the story, I still enjoyed the book overall.

Things have been quiet for the last couple of weeks, so Frank Malloy is happy to have a new client.  Will Bert comes in looking for his younger brother.  The two had been sent out west on the orphan trains, but had become separated.  Will thinks his brother was sent back to New York City and is living as a newsie.  Will has inherited a store, and is hoping to take his brother back to live with him.

Frank is only too happy to track down Freddie, the younger brother, and bring about a happy reunion.  However, as he begins his hunt, he begins to find holes in Will’s story.  He does finds Freddie only for the boy to run off.  Then Freddie turns up dead.  What was really going on?  Did Frank finding him lead to Freddie’s death?

As I hinted earlier, it quickly becomes evident to Frank and us that Freddie’s death has to do with something else that happened, and that becomes the focus of the book without forgetting about Freddie’s death.  This ultimately lead in some very adult directions.  It was handled with the usual discretion (the book is set in 1899, after all) but it still was a bit more than I was completely comfortable with.  I’ve found that happens every few books in this series.

The mystery itself kept me guessing.  Yes, I did figure out a few of the things that were uncovered before the characters did, but I had no clue who had actually committed the murder until about the time the characters figured it out.

So far, I’ve just talked about Frank, but don’t worry, all the series regulars are here, and Sarah, his new wife, contributes to solving the mystery as much as always.  While I didn’t find quite as much humor as in the last few books, I did laugh at some of the characters’ interactions, especially early on in the story.  The new characters are just as strong, and I enjoyed meeting them.

This series has always been wonderful about bringing life in the 1890’s to life, but they don’t always weave in real history.  This is definitely an exception since the newsies’ strike is happening while this book takes place.  As I’ve said, it’s not a major factor in the story, but it, and the life of the newsies in general, provide some nice background to the action taking place.

As long as you are aware this book tackles some adult topics, you’ll be fine.  Fans will certainly appreciate seeing what Frank, Sarah, and the rest are up to in Murder in the Bowery.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Gaslight Mysteries.


  1. I started reading this series a book or two earlier then this one and really enjoyed it. I do remember being surprised by how serious of issues the book tackled but it was a good one! Can't wait to read the newest one.

  2. Sometimes I like a bit of seriousness in my mysteries and, especially, historical novels. This could work for me.

  3. I really enjoy this series and authentic feel of the setting. The author does bring in some historical truths along with my favorite characters. I especially enjoy the author's notes at the end which give more detail on the actual historical facts.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  4. It's great when a series can keep up momentum even when it's been going so long.


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