Review ~ Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (May 1, 2012)
Genre: Cozy
Series: Gaslight Mysteries, book 14
ISBN-10: 0425247414
Buy:Amazon, IndieBound, The Book Depository


Sarah Brandt’s family is one of the oldest in New York City, and her father, Felix Decker, takes his position in society very seriously. He still refuses to resign himself to his daughter being involved with an Irish Catholic police detective. But when a member of his private club — the very exclusive Knickerbocker — is murdered, Decker forms an uneasy alliance with Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to solve the crime as discreetly as possible.

Malloy soon discovers that despite his social standing, the deceased — Algernon Abernathy — was no gentleman. In fact, he’s left behind his own unofficial club of sorts, populated by everyone who despised him. As he and Sarah sort through the suspects, it becomes clear to her that her father is evaluating more than the detective’s investigative abilities, and that, on a personal level, there is much more at stake for Malloy than discovering who revoked Abernathy’s membership — permanently.

As a Detective Sergeant, there’s not much that surprises Frank Malloy anymore. But when the rich and powerful Felix Decker (father of the object of Frank’s affections Sarah Brandt) beckons him to the ultra-exclusive Knickerbocker Club, he has no idea what might be waiting for him. What he doesn’t expect to find is Felix actually needing his help on something. Apparently one of their club members, Chilton Devries, has been murdered, and Felix would like Frank to find out who murdered his friend, as discreetly as possible, of course. Because if the murderer turns out to be “one of their own,” they will handle the punishment, but if it’s not a member of their level of society, than the authorities may handle things.

Mid-wife Sarah Brandt is happy with her adopted daughter, Catherine, Catherine’s caretaker, Maeve, and her superstitious, but loveable, neighbor, Mrs. Ellsworth. Even her mother, Elizabeth Decker, has been coming by often to spend time with her new grandchild. While at home, waiting to be called to a birth, Sarah gets a visit from Frank Malloy, which always brings a smile to her face. As he tells them about the murder at the club, they are shocked when he actually enlists their help in solving the case, and even more bewildering, it was Sarah’s father, Felix’s idea. Usually it’s the other way around, everyone wants Sarah and her mother to keep out of the investigating, but because of their position in society, their actions would be helpful while not being deemed suspicious.

From the outside, Chilton Devries seems like a typical member of the upper-crust with his fancy clothes, exclusive club membership, and a house full of servants. But the more Frank, Sarah, and, yes, even Elizabeth investigate, the more they find out that he’s not the man he appears to be. The list of suspects is long, and includes the wife of a former client who lost everything and took his own life, the mistress, a mafia don, and even his own wife and son, each with their own nefarious reasons for wanting Chilton dead. And then another death occurs, complicating matters even more. Now Frank and Sarah must speed up their investigation before someone else turns up dead.

Murder on Fifth Avenue is the 14th book in the Gaslight Mystery series (see Murder on Astor Place, Murder on Sisters’ Row) featuring turn of the century mid-wife Sarah Brandt and the Irish Catholic Frank Malloy who has caught her eye. With each book, the feelings between Sarah & Frank continues to grow, and with this latest installment, it appears that even Sarah’s father, Felix, is warming up to the idea of the two of them getting together.  It appears as if Felix is asking Frank to investigate this case as not only a way to solve the mystery of his friend’s murder, but also as a test of some sort. I have a feeling we will finally see Sarah & Frank come together VERY soon. Victoria Thompson has the amazing ability to bring the turn of the century to life with her accurate descriptions of the way things were back then. From the horse drawn carriages used by the upper-class to the struggles a mistress will face when she no longer has her “protector,” the images of life in those times is vividly painted for the reader in a way that makes us feel fully invested in the story.  Murder on Fifth Avenue is a wonderfully told, first-rate Victorian mystery.

About the author ~ 

VICTORIA THOMPSON is the author of the Gaslight Mystery Series featuring Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy, which was nominated for a 2001 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. The most recent book in the series is MURDER ON WAVERLY PLACE (Berkley PrimeCrime, June 2009) In her previous life, she published 20 historical romances. A popular speaker, Victoria has taught at Penn State University and currently teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She is a cofounder and past president of Pennwriters and New Jersey Romance Writers, and past president of Novelists, Inc.


Visit Victoria’s website
Like Victoria’s Facebook page
Email her ~ victoria @


Gaslight Mysteries

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  1. Thank you for the thoughtful review, Lori! You are absolutely right–readers WILL see some changes in the relationship between Frank and Sarah. Readers who would like to guess how this happens in the next book can enter the contest I’m having. The person who guesses correctly can have a character named after him/herself. Visit my website for details! Happy reading!

  2. Georgette says:

    Lori, great review. I have the book on hold for tomorrow, and can’t wait to read it! I love all of them. The books are realistically written from that time period and I love all of the books. Thanks for reviewing it.

  3. Nancy Bradford says:

    Love this serires.

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