Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue (Gaslight Mystery)
by Victoria Thompson
Cover Artist: Karen Chandler
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425278987
Date: 01 November 2016 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Murder on St. Nicolas Avenue features friends, servants, and the parents of Sarah Brant (now Mrs. Malloy) and Frank Malloy, a former police detective. While, Sarah and Frank, the newly married couple, are on a European honeymoon, their close associates and relatives take on the case of a woman accused of killing her husband. They have no inkling where the case will lead as they search for the murderer.
A distraught mother, Mrs. O'Neill, comes to beg help from Sarah and is unhappy to learn she is gone and won't return for several weeks. The police have arrested her daughter who hasn't spoken since they found her covered in blood and cradling her dead husband's head. Sorry for Sarah's nanny, Maeve agrees to help and visits the woman in prison. She manages to get the woman out of her blood soaked clothes and into clean garments. In the process, Maeve discovers bruises cover her body. Maeve manages to coax her to speak, but she insists she doesn't remember the murder.
With the help of Mrs. Decker, Sarah's mother, Maeve visits the Pollock home where the murder occurred. Maeve makes a quick search of the house and discovers a safe full of money and a ledger. Amazed at the amount of money, she decides to takes it and the ledger for safekeeping for the imprisoned woman. Mrs. Decker suggests her husband might be able to find something useful from the ledger in relation to the money.
Soon, Maeve enlists the help of an old friend, policeman Gino Donatelli, to discover what she can about the murder and why the police arrested the wife. She also advises Mrs. O'Neill to hire a lawyer and gives her $500 she found in the master bedroom for bail and the lawyer's fee. Meanwhile, Gino listens to the beat cop as he talks about finding the corpse. A large stone frog with a face was used to kill the victim. Servants described it as Egyptian.
The Deckers, Gino, and Maeve decide to solve the murder. Mr. Decker is intrigued by what he suspects is an investment scam because of the amount of cash Maeve found. He also recognizes some of the names in the ledger. He likes the sense of adventure the investigation provides.
Victoria Thompson is a prolific author with nineteen Gaslight Mysteries. She also writes historical fiction. Her characters are humane and caring, while the villains are suitably evil. This particular novel reveals one of her nastiest villains to date. The period setting adds to the charm.