CJ - So, you wanna play with magic?'s Reviews > Murder on Astor Place

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson
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Feb 16, 10

bookshelves: gaslight, victorian, women-detectives, mystery, a-sort-of-cozy-mystery
Read from February 12 to 16, 2010

This book is actually a 3.7.

New York City is the real main character here, which is a bonus to me as I'm a New Yorker, but this isn't the NYC that tourists know. This is the NYC of old. Crime, corruption, dirt, whores, rape, murder - this is the NYC that is trying to turn seedy into livable.

It's 1895, Teddy Roosevelt is President of the NYC Police Commissioners. He is cleaning up the city by trying to make the police department less corrupt. Sgt. Det. Frank Malloy is a widowed cop with a few troubles of his own, he's trying to make Captain and he needs the money to pay for his way up the ladder. When a young girl is murdered in a respectable boardinghouse on the same night as a child is born, he crosses paths with Sarah Brandt nee Decker, a wealthy born midwife who can identify the victim.

The two are working together but they are entirely different people with their own motivations and they have very little scenes together considering.

The characters seem a little wooden as NYC becomes a larger presence, as well as the plot, but toward the end of the book we begin to see more of Frank's "other side" and Sarah's playfulness.

There seems to be a chemistry between the two main leads but who knows what will happen. If Ms. Thompson can write the characters with a little more life to them then it is possible that I can see that chemistry blossoming. For now, the characters are driving the plot and not the other way around which is fine for a mystery and a semi-cozy one at that, but I can't help but want a little more from my main characters.

Another thing that irked me wast in the middle of scene between Frank and Sarah, the POV would suddenly switch from Sarah's to Frank's. That's a bit disorienting and a little bit amateur.

However, the mystery itself was a very good one and kept my attention and the characters, however wooden, have sparked my interest enough to find out what happens.

The book reminds me of Cleo Coyle's "Coffeehouse Mysteries" which are cozy-mysteries that take place in present-day New York. In Greenwich Village to be precise - which is the same place that Sarah Brandt lives, and focuses on a woman with no police background solving murders with a gruff handsome Detective.

It also has a small feeling of the movie "Chinatown" to it as well. If you've seen the movie, you'll get what I'm saying.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Lynn I like your comment about "Chinatown." Very good analogy.


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