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Murder on Waverly Place (Gaslight Mystery) by Victoria Thompson
Cover Artist: Karen Chandler
Review by Beth Slater
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425227756
Date: 02 June 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Thompson’s 11th installment in her Gaslight Mystery series featuring Sarah Brandt once again takes place in the heart of London. It doesn’t, for once, make use of Sarah’s midwifery skills; skills of which her wealthy family is quite unhappy especially since she is actually using them to support herself. Sarah, however, works because the women need her and because she needs to work. But in this case, her mother has asked for her assistance, quite surprising her. Aware that her mother carries her grief deeply inside, her sister Maggie's untimely death happened quite some time ago. The request from her pragmatic and proper mother to visit a medium in order to attempt contact with the spirit of Maggie - to appeal for forgiveness - floors Sarah.

More Victoria Thompson:
Gaslight Mysteries:
* Murder In Chinatown
* Murder on Bank Street
* Murder on Waverly Place

Sarah agrees to accompany her mother – they are all wracked with guilt over Maggie’s death so long ago; but Sarah believes that the séance is nonsense and is hoping to be the voice of reason should her mother be taken in by this fraud. She’s also hoping to help keep this little foray under wraps from her father, who, although out of town, would not take the information well. During the strange experience the spiritualist, Madame Serafina, does appear to contact Maggie – but denies Mrs. Decker her forgiveness, practically ensuring another attendance, despite Sarah's careful, logistical arguments against one.

Sarah thought things had passed until one evening an officer arrived on her doorstep, requesting her presence at the home of Madame Serafina, by Det. Sgt. Malloy. Her mother had attended another séance, but this time one of the other attendees chose to speak with the spirits directly. Now Sarah and Det. Sgt. Malloy must use all of their resources to protect Mrs. Decker from her own folly coming to light, and to find out how and who was able to kill someone in a pitch black room while everyone was holding hands.

A wonderful historical cozy mixed with the taste of some woo-woo, and much romance woven in to the story. The characters are well-developed with such a long-standing series, and yet one doesn’t need to read the previous books to understand or enjoy this as a standalone mystery. The plot was well written and the ending a surprise, of a sort. All around, I found this an enjoyable read and won’t hesitate to pick up the earlier books.

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