Thursday, June 2, 2022

Book Review: Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #21)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters
Cons: Plot, while good, isn’t quite as good as usual
The Bottom Line:
Death in theater
With Frank as the prime suspect
Love these characters

Murder in the Theater Means Trouble for Malloy

Because Frank Malloy, one of the main characters in the Gaslight Mysteries, was a police office and is now a private detective, the series doesn’t typically go the route of so many books I read where one of the main characters is the suspect in a murder.  However, that’s the case in Murder on Union Square, the twenty-first book in the series.

If you are new to the series, it is set in New York City in the 1890’s.  I really do recommend reading the series in order to see how various characters came into each other’s lives and see the relationships grow.  It makes the character interactions that much richer.  But the basics – we follow Frank Malloy, a former Detective Sergeant, and his new wife, Sarah, as they solve murders that take place all over the city.

As this book opens, Frank and Sarah have gotten some bad news.  Their hope to officially adopt Catherine, a little girl that Sarah has cared for for years, hits a snag.  In the eyes of the law, Parnell Vaughn, an actor, is Catherine’s legal father, so he must renounce his claims on her.  Parnell is agreeable, but his fiancée insists that Frank and Sarah much pay something since Parnell is doing them a favor.

And so, Frank returns to the theater where Parnell is playing the leading man a few days later with the money and the papers for Parnell to sign.  However, he finds the actor dead in his dressing room.  Before Frank can summon the police, Parnell’s fiancée stumbles on the scene and accuses Frank of murder.  Now, in order to prove his innocence, Frank and Sarah must find the real killer.  Can they clear his name?

At this point in the series, Frank and Sarah are sharing the detecting spotlight with another couple of characters, and it’s always a pleasure to see the four of them tracking down clues and mulling over what they’ve learned together.  We get scenes from everyone’s point of view as the book unfolds, but it is always obvious when we are switching to another point of view.

As much as I do enjoy spending time with the characters, I did feel the plot wasn’t as strong as some of the others in the series.  Granted, the characters also felt like they were spinning their wheels, so I wasn’t alone.  Still, we do reach a logical climax.

Despite the time period where these books are set, the series has often dip into more adult topics than I typically read.  That’s the case again here, but as long as you know this going in, you’ll be fine.

I know I talked about a few of the characters earlier, but the entire cast is wonderful.  A few of the regular supporting characters pop in and provide some humor.  The suspects are all strong and have several layers that need to be peeled back before we can reach the solution.

And the everyday life of the time period helps pull us into the story.  I always hate to put these books down and think about what the characters have uncovered until I can get back into their world.

While this may not be the strongest entry in the series, fans won’t care.  They’ll still rush through Murder on Union Square to find out what is going to happen o Frank, Sarah, and the rest of the cast.  I know I did.

Enjoy more trips back in time with the rest of the Gaslight Mysteries.


  1. Wow, 21 books in the series is a long lasting series. So glad you're still enjoying it.

  2. It amazes me that series can go on for so long and still be so good.

    Thanks for sharing it with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge!


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