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New York midwife Sarah Brandt is upset when she learns that someone has been inquiring at Hope Mission about Catherine, the abandoned girl who is now her ward. The woman asking claims to be working on behalf of Catherine's mother, who wants to be reunited with her daughter. Sarah will not simply hand Catherine over to an unknown woman, so she asks her police-officer friend, Frank Malloy, to investigate. When he goes to the woman's boardinghouse in Chelsea, he finds her dead. This is hardly bad news for Sarah, since her custody will not be challenged, but her sense of justice compels her to look into the murder. She and Malloy, along with a bit of help from her wealthy parents, the Deckers, scour the high- and lower-class neighborhoods of Manhattan as they learn about Catherine's past and discover the foibles of some prominent families. Malloy also has a challenge to face. It will affect both his future and Sarah's. Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries are first-rate historicals with a strong female sleuth.--Bibel, Barbara Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.