Murder on Lexington Avenue: A Gaslight Mystery

Victoria Thompson, Author Berkley Prime Crime 24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-425-23437-2

In Thompson’s fine 12th mystery set in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City (after 2009’s Murder on Waverly Place), Det. Sgt. Frank Malloy investigates the murder of Nehemiah Wooten, who was bludgeoned with a loving cup Wooten won for sculling at Harvard more than 30 years earlier. A follower of Alexander Graham Bell’s views on eugenics, Wooten was opposed to two deaf people getting married on the grounds that such unions would produce only deaf offspring, an attitude that earned him an enemy within his own home. Wooten’s attractive 16-year-old daughter, Electra, who could not hear, was hoping to marry a deaf teacher. When Malloy visits Wooten’s pregnant widow and her water breaks, he calls in midwife Sarah Brandt. Thanks to her access to the victim’s household, Sarah proves invaluable in helping him uncover the killer. While the psychology of the crime is less complicated than some might prefer, Thompson does a solid job bringing the past to life. (June)