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Murder on Washington Square : a gaslight…
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Murder on Washington Square : a gaslight mystery (edition 2002)

by Victoria Thompson, Karen Chandler (Cover artist)

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4112139,923 (3.92)17
When mild-mannered banker Nelson Ellsworth is accused of murdering his pregnant mistress, it will take the skills of both Sarah Brandt and Detective Frank Malloy to uncover the truth.
Member:JalenV
Title:Murder on Washington Square : a gaslight mystery
Authors:Victoria Thompson
Other authors:Karen Chandler (Cover artist)
Info:New York : Berkley Prime Crime, c2002. Seventh printing. vi, 330 pages [only pp. 2 - 326 are numbered], author's note, excerpt from C. J. Box's Savage Run takes up. pp. 311-326, series ads [Gaslight, Benni Harper, the Inspector & Mrs. Jeffries, and a single mystery. THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP, Published by the Penguin Group, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. [Incorporated], 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, USA. The snail mail addresses are given for Penguin offices in various countries in this order: USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa. England, India, & South Africa are listed as Penguin Books rather than Penguin Group. Canada's is a division of Pearson Penguin Canada, Inc. Ireland's is a division of Penguin Books, Ltd. [Limited] Australia's is a division of Pearson Penguin Australia Pty. [Proprietary] Ltd. New Zealand's is a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd. South Africa's is also Pty. & Ltd. www.penguinputnam.com [URL information was taken from the back cover]. A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author. BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME PRIME CRIME books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME design [a left handprint with a "B" made by a rectangle and two semi-circles to its right] are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA), Inc. PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. The Edgar® name is a registered service mark of the Mystery Writers of America, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions. For information, address: [see publisher address above]. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as 'unsold and destroyed' to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this 'stripped book.' PRINTING HISTORY Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition April 2002 Seventh printing of first edition line: 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 The copyright given is 2002, held by Victoria Thompson. Cover price: $6.99 US / $9.99 Canada.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:historical mystery, 19th century New York City, midwives

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Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson

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Murder on Washington Square is the fourth book in Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series. Midwife/nurse Sarah Brandt's next-door neighbor, widowed Mrs. [Edna] Ellsworth, has been a member of the supporting cast since book one, Murder on Astor Place. Her usual function is nosy questions, concern for Sarah, hoping Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy will be a new Mr. Right for the young widow, and telling Sarah about whatever happened to her that involves a superstition. (Sarah doesn't believe in those superstitions, but they do seem to come true more often than not.)

Mrs. Ellsworth's adult son, Nelson, still lives with her. Nelson has a woman problem and he seeks Sarah's advice. He's terribly ashamed of himself for getting Anna Blake in trouble (an old euphemism for a unmarried woman getting pregnant). Nelson wants to do the honorable thing and marry Anna, but she wants a thousand dollars to start a new life elsewhere. She claims she doesn't want to ruin Nelson's life with scandal. Sarah is pretty skeptical about Miss Blake already. After all, at a time when an unmarried pregnant woman would gladly marry ANY man willing to give her baby his [last] name, Anna's explanation doesn't ring true.

Sarah's 'balderdash alarm' goes off even more loudly after she accompanies Nelson to Mr. & Mrs. Walcott's boarding house, where she meets Anna. Anna makes hysterical accusations that unnerve poor Nelson and try Sarah's patience. Still, neither of them expect Anna's corpse to be later found in Washington Square, let alone Nelson to be accused of her murder. It's time for Sarah to visit police headquarters and enlist the aid of Frank Malloy.

Sarah was right to be suspicious about Anna Blake. She wasn't what Nelson believed her to be. Since Nelson didn't murder her, who did? Can Sarah and Frank find out without Sarah putting her life in danger again?

This book takes place weeks after book three, Murder in Gramercy Park. A subplot in that book was Sarah knowing a surgeon who might be able to operate on Brian Malloy's club foot so Frank's three-year-old son could walk. The operation happened long enough ago to give Sarah an excuse to visit the Malloy apartment. She really does want to see how Brian is doing, and it's a reason Alma Malloy, Frank's widowed mother, can't be too nasty about. Well, Mrs. Malloy will be nasty anyway. Frank has needed his mother since his wife Kathleen died in childbirth, and Alma worries that she'll no longer be needed if her son remarries.

Another subplot is the matter of Dr. Tom Brandt's murder. It's been three years and the case was never investigated. Frank thinks that solving it is the least he can do for Sarah after she made him realize that Brian is merely deaf, not simple-minded, and after introducing him to Dr. Newton. This subplot has several books to run through yet, so don't expect a lot of progress.

NOTES:

Chapter 1: Antimacassars are those squares of cloth or doilies that used to be put on the backs and arms of chairs and sofas. (Chairs and sofas may come with their own arm protectors these days, but we don't have to worry about men's macassar hair oil staining the furniture anymore.)

Chapter 2:

a. I knew about rabbit feet and new pennies for luck, but Mrs. Ellsworth tells Sarah about nutmegs.

b. The Malloys' second floor flat is in the Seventeenth Ward, where one might hear the roar of the Second Avenue Elevated Railway.

c. Brian's eyes are described as [sky] blue again. Sarah is correct -- Brian gets his looks (including his red-gold hair), from his late mother. Given that Frank has dark eyes, I'm guessing he's a hybrid brown, as I am. Perhaps he, too, had a blue-eyed father.

d. Sarah was locked in an interrogation room in Murder on Astor Place.

e. See the author's note for more about the Maria Barberi [Barbella] case.

f. Mrs. Ellsworth saved Sarah's life in book two, Murder on St. Mark's Place..

Chapter 3: Despite Sarah frying a pork chop better than his mother does (see chapter one, Murder on St. Mark's Place.), here Frank thinks that Sarah isn't as good a cook as his mother.

Chapter 5: The scandal has upset Mr. Holsinger, who lives across the street from Sarah and the Ellsworths.

Chapter 6:

a. Mrs. Ellsworth has a superstition about hearing knocking.

b. Frank learns about a use women have for sponges. (I'm sure he'd be even more horrified by contraceptive fudge.)

Chapter 7:

a. The Decker home is near the Plaza Hotel and Marble Row on Fifth Avenue.

b. For why Mrs. Schyler isn't speaking to Mrs. Decker, see Murder on St. Mark's Place.). See the same book for the murder of Charity Girls.

c. Frank talks with Nelson about his time with Anna Blake.

Chapter 9: That Settlement House that Richard Dennis' late wife Hazel used to visit will not only be a major place of interest in the next book, Murder on Mulberry Bend, it will appear in many other books in this series.

Chapter 13: Mrs. Ellsworth explains what it means if one's left eye itches. ( )
  JalenV | Sep 12, 2019 |
Midwife Sarah Brandt receives a note from her next door neighbor Nelson Ellsworth that he would like to meet her away from their street (away from his mother), to consult her in her professional capacity.

Sarah meets with Nelson and learns he has seduced a young lady who is now with child. She won’t marry him, she only wants $1000 to disappear and raise their child. Nelson wants Sarah to go with him to Anna’s boarding house to advise him if she is really with child and to help him persuade Anna to marry him.

So begins the next murder case that Sarah Brandt with investigate with Detective Sargent Frank Malloy.

A great read combining the police, the medical, and the newspaper journalists and the privileged elites with lots of suspects! Highly recommended.

I think Ms. Thompson said it best in her afterward, “our legal system has surely not changed very much” in the past 120 years. Sex, blackmail and murder with the poor and middle class at risk of prosecution while the rich and powerful use their influence or buy their way out. ( )
  Bettesbooks | Jun 16, 2019 |
Loving this series so much! ( )
  cfulton20 | Dec 5, 2018 |
Loving this series so much! ( )
  cfulton20 | Dec 5, 2018 |
Murder in Washington Square
4 Stars

When Nelson Ellsworth, the mild-mannered son of her nosy next-door neighbor, is accused of murder, Sarah Brandt enlists the aid of Detective Frank Malloy to help her clear Nelson's name and find the real killer.

As in the previous installments, the mystery is simple and easy to figure out. Nevertheless, the historical background, and growing attraction between Sarah and Frank make this a fun read.

Thompson's research and attention to detail is excellent. The history of the Hanging Tree in Washington Square is very interesting as is the story of Maria Barbella, and the portrayal of yellow journalism at the turn of the century is realistic and believable.

Sarah and Frank's relationship is progressing slowly, but surely as they both come to realize that there is more between them than friendship (although neither is willing to admit it to themselves let alone each other).

All in all, another engaging addition to Thompson's historical cozy mystery series and it looks like the investigation into the death of Sarah's husband is about to heat up.
( )
  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Victoria Thompsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chandler, KarenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my beautiful daughter Ellen and her new husband Dave. May all your dreams come true.
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Sarah opened the door to find a ragged little boy on her front stoop.
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[After Frank has given attorney Albert Smythe a reason give him information he didn't want to give him]

Smythe's bloodless lips tightened and a slight flush rose on his flabby, white neck, but he betrayed no other outward sign of his true emotions. 'You are an expert negotiator,' he allowed grudgingly. 'You should have been an attorney.'

Frank couldn't help a small grin. 'My mother wanted me to have a respectable profession.' Since police work was considered completely disreputable by people like Smythe, Frank wouldn't ahve been surprised to be summarily thrown out. (chapter 6)
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To Sarah Brandt, the mere thought of mild-mannered banker Nelson Ellsworth murdering his mistress seemed absurd. But to the police, it made perfect sense. Especially since the woman was allegedly carrying his child. But Sarah met the young woman the day before the incident. And something in her eyes made it quite clear that she was neither as poor nor as innocent as she would have people believe. Now it will take the seasoned skill of Detective Frank Malloy to help clear Mr. Ellsworth's good name. And to determine if Sarah's suspicions are correct - that the victim may have been the victimizer...
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