cover image The Dead Cry Justice

The Dead Cry Justice

Rosemary Simpson. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3334-4

Set in 1890, Simpson’s able sixth Gilded Age mystery (after 2020’s Death, Diamonds and Deception) finds Prudence MacKenzie, a private inquiry agent who’s considering joining New York University law school’s first class to allow women students, sitting in Washington Square Park. When a street urchin runs away with her bag lunch, Prudence follows him into the cellar of a nearby building, where she finds him guarding a teenage girl, possibly his sister, who has been beaten nearly comatose. The girl’s eyelashes and eyebrows have been replaced with tattoos, her skin is bleached artificially white, and she has been repeatedly raped. Though a Quaker refuge for the poor agrees to care for the children, who are too traumatized to speak, both vanish that night. Prudence and her investigative partner, Geoffrey Hunter, who’s recovering from gunshot wounds he suffered in the previous book, discover few convincing clues to their disappearance until a costly, elaborately dressed porcelain doll whose features resemble those of the missing girl is delivered anonymously to Prudence’s home. Cameo appearances by the real-life Nellie Bly and Jacob Riis enliven Simpson’s intricate, well-researched narrative. Fans of Victoria Thompson and Alyssa Maxwell will be pleased. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Dec.)