Murder on Waverly Place
Review: Amateur sleuth Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy investigate murder with a supernatural twist in Murder on Waverly Place, the 11th mystery in the historical Gaslight series by Victoria Thompson.
Sarah's mother, Elizabeth Decker, who had turned her unmarried pregnant daughter away when she needed her mother the most and died in childbirth, wants to know if her daughter can forgive her and decides to seek help from a local medium, Madame Serafina. Mrs. Decker and her best friend since childhood, Mrs. Burke, attend a séance together with three others: two men, Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Cunningham, and one other woman, Mrs. Gittings. They sit in a circle each holding the wrist of the person seated next to them. Yellow Feather, an Indian warrior who passed away over 100 years ago, is Madame Serafina's spirit guide. While Yellow Feather is trying to answer the questions of each one, the room becomes unsettled and noisy. Suddenly Mrs. Gittings slumps over, falls to the floor and dies. When the lights come on it is discovered she has been stabbed in the back with a stiletto. How can this be? Everyone was holding on to another person. No one could have possibly stabbed another person without letting go of a wrist and no one felt anyone let go of their wrist.
The people in the room are wealthy, and DS Frank Malloy knows how difficult it is to question them. He asks Sarah to get involved; she can talk to them and they won't realize they are being interrogated. It turns out each attendee at the fatal séance had a grudge against Mrs. Gittings, and although they weren't overly saddened by her death, each declared their innocence. This being the case, which one killed Mrs. Gittings? And how and why? In order to try to find answers to these questions, another séance is scheduled with someone sitting in for Mrs. Gittings. Sarah and Frank believe they will be able to solve the case before anyone else gets a stiletto in their back.
Murder on Waverly Place is a very entertaining entry in this series. The interplay between Sarah and Frank is light and playful, each trying to one up each other during the murder investigation. The author provides historical details that not only add authenticity to the story but also interest and depth. The characters are well drawn, and the supernatural element adds a bit of intrigue. Readers who enjoy historical mysteries will find this a good introduction to the characters and the setting; those familiar with the series will look forward another satisfying entry.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Murder on Waverly Place.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of Murder on Waverly Place for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Murder on Waverly Place: New York City
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Murder on Waverly Place by Victoria Thompson — A Gaslight Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $24.95