The Bibliophile Presents: Reading New (To Me) Authors Part 4

16 Jun

There are some suspiciously bright spots in the sky today and I think it might be sunlight. Hard to tell, it has been awhile. Today’s book starts out with a late season snow storm in late 1890s New York City and it’s conclusion happens in a thunderstorm. Makes the book sound a bit melodramatic, and it is (just a smidge), but somehow Victoria Thompson makes it work. Probably helps that she has given the story a likable protagonist and shows that her characters are capable of growth.

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson. When I started reading Murder on Astor Place I was encouraged to see how many books there were in the series for two reasons: 1) if Thompson was a crappy writer the publisher wouldn’t keep publishing her work, and 2) if I liked the book I would have plenty of future reading material. Sarah Brandt, Thompson’s protagonist, is a midwife in late 19th century New York City. In the course of her work as a midwife she runs across a murder and meets Detective Frank Malloy. Sarah and Frank are nothing alike and can barely tolerate each other (she’s a little like a baby-delivering/sleuthing Dolly Levi and he’s a jaded Irish police officer), so, it seems likely that they will eventually fall in love in future books. But for now, they combine forces to solve a crime that takes them into the twisted heart of one of New York’s wealthiest families. Sarah, our midwife and sleuth, is in a unique position to help solve the crime because she too is from one of the wealthiest, most influential old families in New York. With a lesser writer, Sarah Brandt’s choice to forgo her family’s wealth and position for the independence of having her own career would feel contrived, but Thompson gives Sarah a back-story that helps to make Sarah’s choice feel plausible. I liked the main characters and I plan to spend a lot more time with them in the dirty, violent, and class-divided New York of the 1890s.

*Tomorrow we totally ditch the Victorian world and head to present-day Egypt with Will Adams’ book The Alexander Cipher.

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Posted by on June 16, 2010 in Books, Lifestyle


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