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Murder on Lexington Avenue (Gaslight…
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Murder on Lexington Avenue (Gaslight Mystery) (edition 2010)

by Victoria Thompson

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179866,229 (3.75)17
Member:navelos
Title:Murder on Lexington Avenue (Gaslight Mystery)
Authors:Victoria Thompson
Info:Berkley Hardcover (2010), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
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Murder on Lexington Avenue by Victoria Thompson

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When wealthy businessman Nehemiah Wooten is found to have been murdered, New York Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy is called to investigate because of his connection to the deaf community. The murdered man's daughter is a student at one of New York's two schools for the deaf. Mr. Wooten had strong views on his daughter's education. He was opposed to the use of sign language and placed her in a school where she would be taught to lip read and speak. His daughter viewed things differently, and had made a connection with someone from the other school – Malloy's son's school. As Malloy is interviewing members of the dead man's household, it becomes apparent that one of them is in urgent need of his friend Sarah Brandt's services. Between them, Malloy and Sarah discover multiple motives and suspects, including some clandestine lovers and possibly untrustworthy business partners.

Despite some well-developed red herrings, the culprit was glaringly obvious from the outset. I found the focus on the competing methods of deaf education more interesting than the murder mystery. Alexander Graham Bell was a prominent advocate of teaching deaf persons to lip read and speak, and he was against the use of sign language. Mr. Wooten was influenced by Bell's views, while Frank Malloy had decided to send his son to a school where he would learn sign language. I wasn't familiar with this controversy, or its link to the eugenics movement of that era. Alexander Graham Bell believed that deafness was hereditary, and that eliminating sign language would break up deaf communities and reduce the chances for deaf individuals to meet each other, marry, and reproduce.

Ms. Thompson keeps finding more ways to explore the personal lives of her characters beyond a simple romance story line. It keeps the series from growing stale. ( )
2 vote cbl_tn | Sep 6, 2014 |
In this installment Sarah and Frank need to solve the murder of a man. His daughter is deaf and is happy that her father is dead since he did not allow her to learn sign language. She is in love with one of the teachers at the school for the deaf that Frank's son Brian attends. The wife of the murdered man gives birth to her lover's child in the beginning and all those pieces intertwine to make this a very good read. ( )
  Anntstobbs | Apr 27, 2012 |
It took me a few Anne Perry and Victoria Thompson novels to discover that the term 'mystery' has changed from how it was used let's say 10 to 20 years ago. Most readers might still associated a mystery novel with a puzzle and with sleuthing, but those terms rarely apply anymore to modern mysteries. Anne Perry is one of many contemporary authors who writes historical fiction with a romantic inclination, which is probably a better label than mystery. Granted, the reader does not know until the very end who has committed the heinous crime, but then again the reveal is most of the time arrived at by the culprit confessing without provocation and regularly without convincing motivation. You could say: with enough time and social pressure the murderer will eventually show him or herself without the need for evidence. Rarely in these novels is there actual hard evidence linking the crime to the crimee.

Traditionally in the context of a murder mystery there are a number of suspects each with the appropriate motivation as to why they wanted to snuff the life out of the poor victim. At the end of the story a sleuth or consulting detective explains why only one of the suspects could have actually committed the crime and why the rest of the bunch are not eligible for the title of murderer, no matter how much they desired that tribute.
In an Anne Perry novel the mechanism is reversed, we now have a number of suspects each of which was potentially at the proper place (one will never know) with the right intentions and correct means, but physical evidence and eyewitness reports don't matter that much. The one who has the best motive wins, it's that simple. Instead of the traditional plotting of the author, sleuthing by the detective and puzzling by the readers, we now have novels where the mystery content revolves around veiled dramatic character interactions. Most of these interactions will mostly appeal only to female audiences and ironically portray a rather traditional domestic picture and gender role division.

From a historical perspective there is much to be found and experienced. Authors like Anne Perry, Victoria Thompson and Caleb Carr to name just a few, are heavily invested in accurate depictions and appropriately original detail. Reading an Anne Perry is just as much an immersive trip into Victorian Times as it is an ongoing daytime television saga. Readers aren't really invested in an Anne Perry for the story, but for the endless almost but not quite amorous interactions between Charlotte and Thomas. For a Victoria Thompson novel you can swap out Frank and Sarah, everything else stays the same.

If you like a trip into a complete and convincing Victorian world with lots of interesting drama and elaborate character interactions through dialog, then you're in for a treat. If you're looking for an Agatha Christie mystery then I suggest you read an Agatha Christie. ( )
  TheCriticalTimes | Jan 5, 2012 |
When an avid supporter of the movement against ASL (and of eugenics) is found dead in his business office, Malloy has no shortage of suspects; his partner makes it immediately clear that no one who knew him liked him, his (deaf) daughter expresses satisfaction at the news, and countless motives begin to surface - including an unknown pregnancy, which brings Sarah Brandt into the picture.

As the series continues I believe it must be increasingly difficult for Thompson to conceive of situations in which a reputable midwife can find herself involved in a murder investigation, but I found this particular situation to be successful. Likewise, I enjoy the personal developments with which Thompson peppers his stories, although I maintain that she is a terrible terrible tease. ( )
  Luxx | May 30, 2011 |
Victoria Thompson again brings to the table interesting historic information. This volume of the Gaslight series set in late 1800's of New York focuses on deaf individuals and the different schools catering to the deaf. The more popular school of that time believed in teaching the deaf person to read lips and to vocally speak. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, firmly believed this to be the only route to follow. Bell also believed that deaf people should not marry another deaf person, and even believed that the deaf should not marry or should not have children. The other school followed a different avenue and taught the deaf individual a sign language. The sign language teaching met many obstacles, and was almost abandoned or derailed. The discovery of the murderer was not as cleverly done in this story as in prior stories, plus a few issues happened that were not resolved. Still, this is an interesting journey into New York society. ( )
  delphimo | May 23, 2011 |
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To Keira,
the very newest Thompson!
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Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy pushed his way through the crowd gathered at the entrance to the modest office building.
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After an influential man in the deaf community is murdered, Frank Malloy is assigned the case, presumably because his son attends the New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. Malloy suspects the murderer is tied to the school, and turns to midwife Sarah Brandt for help.… (more)

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