Murder in Morningside Heights: A Gaslight Mystery #19 by Victoria Thompson

murder in morningside heights

The nineteenth novel in this long running series presents a new case for Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah’s fledgling detective agency. A seemingly perfect young woman with a fine future in teaching at a private academy is brutally murdered at mid-day where anyone could have witnessed the death, but no one comes forward to claim to have seen anything.

The college has its reputation at stake and seemingly benefits from solving the crime. The teachers and students are all afraid of the unknown assailant striking again. The closed atmosphere of a woman’s college makes it difficult to interview potential witnesses, particularly for Frank, a hardened ex-cop who lacks some of the gentler ways of nice society at times.

college 1900s

Luckily his wife Sarah, an ex-midwife with a high society background can often interview the delicate individuals who may not wish to talk with Frank.

The series takes place in early 1900s New York City. This particular novel takes on women’s lives and careers, and how they could be lived separately from male influences. It seemed to be taken for granted that a woman who chose a career teaching at this novel’s college would forsake married life or romance. Perhaps at the time any woman who desired a real career would feel they had to make that choice.

women classroom 1900s

Sarah, the heroine of the series long ago gave up her wealthy life to marry a doctor and become a mid-wife. Late in the series when she finally marries Frank, she has taken on a large household, has an adopted child and little time to help investigate or use her midwife skills. In addition to the other women in the novel, she appears to have had to give up the exciting and challenging life she once had once married. In a charming turn of events, her husband proposes building a much needed home for homeless expectant mothers next to their own home so she can still engage in her chosen career, yet have others who can handle the establishment when she cannot.

A few novels ago, Frank unexpectedly came into a fortune, and I didn’t see how the series could progress with that huge change in their lives. I really like the way that Frank was shown to have left the police force because everyone now despised his millionaire status. The starting up of their own agency combines their unique talents and has been a great way to continue the series.


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