Murder in Chelsea: A Gaslight Mystery

Victoria Thompson. Berkley Prime Crime, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-26041-8

Before a resolution that will strike many as too pat, Thompson injects both suspense and pathos into her 15th mystery set in late-19th-century New York City (after 2012’s Murder on Fifth Avenue). Widowed midwife Sarah Brandt has cause for alarm. Anne Murphy claims to be the nursemaid of Catherine, the almost-five-year-old girl whom Brandt would like to adopt but can’t because a single woman can’t adopt. Murphy says that Catherine had a wealthy father and was left at Brandt’s mission to save the child’s life from a half-sibling who wanted to safeguard his inheritance. But before these allegations can be verified, someone stabs Murphy to death. The murder suggests that the danger to Catherine is real, and Brandt again turns to her longtime love interest, NYPD Sgt. Frank Malloy, for help. A sappy ending undercuts a persuasive look at the divide between the city’s haves and have-nots at the time. Agent: Nancy Yost, Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (May)