Saturday, October 27, 2012

No bigger than an agate stone

While waiting for the next Daisy Dalrymple books to arrive from the library and paperbackswap, I managed to find another great mystery series! (Yay, Amazon suggestions.)

Victoria Thompson's Gaslight series features Sarah Brandt, a widowed midwife in late-19th century New York City.

What I like about the storyline is the development of Sarah's friendship with an enigmatic police detective. In the first book, the police sergeant is gruff and suspicious of Sarah, who left her privileged background when she married a doctor years before. By the end of the book, when they've reluctantly worked together to solve the murder of a girl in a boarding house, the reader learns that Sgt. Malloy has a "feeble-minded", disfigured toddler son. By the end of the second book, they've teamed up again to solve a series of murders of working-class girls who exchange their favors for baubles. But even more interestingly, we discover that the supposedly "feeble-minded" son is actually deaf and that his club foot is operable. In Book 3, Malloy takes Sarah's advice and seeks the advice of doctors and schools for the deaf to see what options are available for his son (oh, and they solve the murder of a quack doctor in the process).

I think I'm fixating on the deaf and disabled toddler son (who is definitely a minor, minor -- haha-- character in the books) because I've been Skyping my nieces and neffies a lot lately, what with a new nephew and starting kindergarten and preschool and all. But whatevs, every reader brings their own personal biases to a series. I happen to like this one... and not because mi dos hermanas both had midwives for their last deliveries, either. Or 'k, maybe that makes me more partial to Sarah as the main character. As the holidays near, I've been poring over Snapfish photos of all the wee ones and keep thinking that they grow up so damn fast!

Anyways, unlike the Daisy Dalrymple series, which is very much in the vein of Dame Christie (where the mysteries are solved in large rooms with relatively little cliffhanger drama at the end), the Gaslight series features the cases being solved in extremely dramatic ways. Perhaps this is the American tradition in the genre? At any rate, the series is thoroughly enjoyable; and it serves its purpose as a method of escapism during this rainy GOTV season.

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