Five Stars for Murder on Lexington Avenue

8-31 Victoria Thompson coverMurder on Lexington Avenue is the 12th in Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery series. I’ve read several, but this one is a favorite of mine. My review: Sarah Brandt, New York midwife in the early 1900s, keeps getting involved in murder while delivering babies. It isn’t anything about souls passing in and out, it’s just that the same people are involved. While one woman is having a baby, someone she knows, be it her family or her neighbors, is mixed up in murder, often as the victim. Sarah is handy and willing to help out an Irish cop, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. In this case, the teenage daughter of the victim is involved with conflicting schools of training the deaf. Her father is a generally disliked business owner. But, who killed him? Seemingly he was alone at his place of business. His business partner, and several others may have visited. Or, none of them saw him, if one is to believe the testimony. And, even if Frank Malloy finds the killer, 1903 in New York often meant Frank, although he was the police, would find it difficult to accuse anyone who had the money to make sure he didn’t keep his job. Then another murder complicates the possibilities.

The ambiance is authentic, the plot is devious, the characters are a mix from delightful to devilish. Best of all, the outcome is completely unexpected, but, oh so absolutely right! Highly recommended to mystery and history readers.

Victoria Thompson has been nominated for an Agatha for historic mystery. There are now 17 books in the series. Her Amazon author page is here. (I believe the midwife and the police detective sergeant are planning to wed in the latest. Must read that too!)

Art In The Attic

A son visits his father.

A son visits his father.

The drawings on the wall of a third floor storage room have been there for over one hundred years. As the house passed through different owners, one promise was made—leave the pictures alone. They are pencil drawings, made by two boys who lived with their mother in the rented house. Some of them depict their older brother, Leo Hauck, who was a champion boxer.

How did this all get on the front page of my local newspaper? The current homeowner was curious. She asked questions and discovered a few amazing connections. Three of Leo’s children survive and live locally. Peggy, age 100, and Eddie, age 94, didn’t walk up the stairs to see their father as a young boxer. Joe, age 80, lives less than a mile away. He and his daughter visited the third-floor drawings and were amazed.

As a writer, I always think, what if? What if any one of the owners of the house had painted over those pictures? What if, the house was remodeled and windows replaced a wall? What if the area had been zoned for renewal and the place torn down and became a parking lot? What if none of those happened, but the connection was never made?

Joe Hauck was thirteen when his father died. He knew he’d been a fighter. He’d known those uncles who drew the pictures as children. He knew his father started boxing as a flyweight at age fourteen. He knew he was known as the “Lancaster Thunderbolt,” and often as Leo Houck due to a misspelled promotional piece. Joe’s father, who successfully boxed in every weight up to heavyweight (as he grew) is named in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Now Joe knows a bit more.

To see more pictures and the complete article, check out this link in LNP Newspapers.