cover image Murder Wears a Hidden Face: A Gilded Age Mystery

Murder Wears a Hidden Face: A Gilded Age Mystery

Rosemary Simpson. Kensington, $30.99 (336p.) ISBN 978-1-4967-4106-6

New York City’s Chinatown in the late 19th century provides a fascinating backdrop for Simpson’s outstanding eighth Gilded Age Mystery (after 2022’s Death at the Falls). Attorney Prudence McKenzie and former Pinkerton detective Geoffrey Hunter join Manhattan’s elite at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the February 1891 unveiling of an exhibition of Chinese artifacts to accompany the arrival in America of Chinese cultural attaché Lord Peng Tha Mah and his family. While the museum guests watch in shock, a man steps out of the crowd, stabs Lord Peng to death, and flees. McKenzie and Hunter are swiftly hired to investigate. Meanwhile, the Chinese government tries to force the Peng family to return home by revoking their diplomatic standing, though official communications make it clear that violence would await them back in China. McKenzie and Hunter help the Pengs escape into the anonymity of Chinatown—but the family is soon wrapped up in the neighborhood’s criminal affairs while Tha Mah’s killer remains at large. Simpson’s historical research pays off in spades, resulting in a captivating depiction of the ethnic enclave that never distracts from the plot’s high tension. By eschewing the expected focus on the Gilded Age’s Robber Barons, this mystery takes readers on a fresh and exciting ride. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Nov.)