cover image Death Brings a Shadow

Death Brings a Shadow

Rosemary Simpson. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2209-6

Simpson’s strong fourth Gilded Age mystery (after 2018’s Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets) brings New Yorker Prudence MacKenzie and former Pinkerton detective Geoffrey Hunter to Georgia’s Bradford Island for the wedding of a close friend of Prudence, heiress Eleanor Dickson. Soon after their arrival, Eleanor is found drowned. When Geoffrey notices bruising on the body that suggests foul play, the two determine to solve the crime. Prudence discovers that juju is still practiced on Bradford and that a former slave and conjure woman called Aunt Jessa knows more than she is telling. When Aunt Jessa is murdered, the sleuths feel sure that the island’s secrets hold the key to Eleanor’s death. The tension rises as Prudence’s Yankee perspective clashes with Geoffrey’s greater sympathy for the South, jeopardizing their investigative partnership and their personal rapport. Though the elaborate backstory can be confusing, Simpson neatly exploits the gothic possibilities of her isolated setting and delivers a nuanced look at an America struggling to adjust to transformative change. This entry should win the series new fans. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Dec.)