Murder at Bertram's Bower: A Beacon Hill Mystery

Cynthia Peale, Author Doubleday Books $22.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-49637-7
Did you know that William James, the eminent Boston philosopher/psychologist, invented the term ""serial killer"" at least 80 years before Hannibal Lecter? Or maybe Peale (aka novelist Nancy Zaroulis) is just having us on in this second book in her Beacon Hill Mystery series (after 2000's The Death of Colonel Mann) about Addington and Caroline Ames, a brother-and-sister team of upper-class crime solvers in Victorian Boston. It's all part of the atmospheric fun, not to be taken too seriously, as the author spends as much time on social customs and ladies' costumes as she does on her somewhat creaky story. It starts with the clich d scene of a policeman losing his lunch when he finds the mangled corpse of a young woman in an alley, continues with the city-wide fear that London's Jack the Ripper has somehow migrated to Massachusetts and ends up with one set of devoted siblings wrestling for their lives with one another in an untrustworthy elevator. In between, the Ames kids venture out repeatedly from their comfortable Louisburg Square home into the unusually wet and cold winter of 1892 to discover who has been slashing former prostitutes now housed by a charitable friend of Caroline's. A good deal of the pleasure comes in between their adventures, through stops at places like the Durgin-Park Market Dining Rooms, where 50 cents purchases a plate of Yankee pot roast and Indian pudding. (Feb. 20)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-440-23563-7
Hardcover - 488 pages - 978-0-7089-4697-8
Open Ebook - 209 pages - 978-0-307-48848-0
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-0-440-61395-4
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