cover image Death at the Falls

Death at the Falls

Rosemary Simpson. Kensington, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3336-8

Simpson’s intriguing seventh Gilded Age mystery (after 2021’s The Dead Cry Justice) sends New York investigative attorneys Prudence MacKenzie and Geoffrey Hunter to Niagara Falls in 1890, when land prices are skyrocketing in the face of burgeoning industrialization. Lucas Adderly, before he went missing seven years earlier, put some of his family fortune as well as valuable newly purchased land in trust for his daughter, Rowan, who’s expected to gain control of the trust on her upcoming 18th birthday. Lucas’s greedy mother attempts to block Rowan’s inheritance by claiming that the girl’s late mother was promiscuous and she’s another man’s child. Shortly after arriving in Niagara, Prudence and Geoffrey watch “Crazy Louie” Whiting, who hopes to be the first human to survive a trip over the falls, send a sheep down the cascade in a barrel. When the barrel reaches the bottom, it reveals the corpse of a surveyor’s assistant who suspected collusion between corrupt government officials and those seeking profits from Niagara land. Incorporating characters ranging from Indigenous tribespeople to souvenir shills, Simpson brings Niagara and its contentious modernization to life. This one’s for history buffs and fans of smart female sleuths. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Dec.)