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What the Dead Leave Behind

(A Gilded Age Mystery #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,399 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Set amidst the opulent mansions and cobblestone streets of Old New York, this enthralling historical mystery by Rosemary Simpson brings the Gilded Age to life in a tantalizing tale of old money, new love, and grave suspicion . . .

As the Great Blizzard of 1888 cripples the vast machinery that is New York City, heiress Prudence MacKenzie sits anxiously within her palatial F
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
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What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson is a 2017 Kensington Publication.

When a record breaking spring blizzard hits New York, Prudence Mackenzie’s fiancé, Charles, was one the weather’s casualties, or so it would seem. His death, upends Prudence entire future, as the provisions and dictates in her father’s carefully worded last will and testament, which depended upon Prudence’s marriage to Charles, became null and void. This puts Prudence in a very awkward and vulnerable situation- as w
Dead men tell no tales........or do they?

A brutal snowstorm has hit New York City like the back of one's hand. Unexpected and packing a full-out whallop. It's March of 1888 and there appears to be no glimmer in this Gilded Age. Nothing but the howling blast of wind and the treacherous streets of ice and mounds of impassable snow await these city dwellers.

Yet in amazement, two dark figures appear. Charles Linwood and his lawyer, Roscoe Conkling, decide to take on the storm through Union Square Pa
Diane S ☔
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 Prudence was raised in a very privileged and wealthy environment. Her father a respected judge, and after her mother's death when she was nine, raised solely by him. Trained to notice things other young ladies in her circumstances were not, she was given an education usually afforded to men. The year is 1888, her father has now died, the widow he married three years preciously much to Prudence's dismay, her guardian until the marriage her father approved of takes place. The historic snowstor ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This wasn't actually a whodunnit or even a whydunnit. I guess you could call it a howdunnit?

Honestly, there is little to no mystery here, it is quite straightforward as to what has occurred and why. There are a few revelations along the way, nothing that was entirely surprising or suspenseful. I was constantly disappointed at the main character searching and searching for clues and coming up with nothing. It was quite unsatisfying for a mystery reader, and really slowed the pace.

On a positive n
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2017
**I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.**

I like mysteries. I like it when the mystery is the center of the story and it holds me in suspense until the end and I also like it when the mystery is a smaller piece of the story and it is more character-driven. I suppose the best case scenario for a mystery is for it to hold me in suspense throughout the whole story AND captivate me with truly outstanding characters. The worst case scenario would be an easily solved mystery and
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-arc
I would like to thank Goodreads and Kensington Books for this ARC.

Set amidst the opulent mansions and cobblestone streets of Old New York, this historical mystery takes place during the Great Blizzard of 1888. This book was very interesting to me as I live in New York and find historical stories that took place there fascinating. I especially like to put myself in the characters place. As the Great Blizzard takes place we find Prudence who has just lost her father and is living with her stepmoth
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was engrossing and kept me reading late into the night. I liked the main character and her desire to find the truth behind her fiancé’s and her father’s deaths. I also liked the somewhat unusual choice to have Prudence also deal with a laudanum addiction, and it be a significant part of her journey in the book from practically prostrate with grief, to not only participating in the investigation, but be in a stronger, much more focused place mentally by the end of the book.
There is some good potential in this start to a new historical mystery series but it remains to be seen whether or not future installments improve on this foundation. The story is set in New York, 1888, and kicks off during the Great Blizzard that hit unexpectedly in March of that year. The story is told in third person so the POV passes around to quite a few characters. The two central ones however are 19 year old Prudence MacKenzie and thirty-something Geoffrey Hunter, a lawyer and former Pink ...more
Kate Baxter
4.5 / 5 stars
What a delicious start to Rosemary Simpson's , "A Gilded Age Mystery" series. The writing is beautifully descriptive and often elegant; the historical detail - spot-on; and the mise en scène - historic perfection. The action and its air of suspense carries throughout the entire book.

New York City - March 12, 1888
Our protagonist, Prudence MacKenzie, having just recently buried her widower father, a respected judge, is at home anxiously awaiting the arrival of her fiancé during a fie
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Blizzard of 1888 brings New York City to a halt. The snow blocks transportation and 200 people that venture outside during the storm freeze to death. The storm will also completely change heiress Prudence MacKenzie's life. Her fiance, Charles, is found dead on a bench, the back of his head caved in. Officials rule that a falling tree branch knocked him unconscious and he froze to death. Prudence believes the cause of his death might be much more sinister.

Following the death of her father, P
Set amidst the opulent mansions and cobblestone streets of Old New York, this enthralling historical mystery by Rosemary Simpson brings the Gilded Age to life in a tantalizing tale of old money, new love, and grave suspicion . . .

What the Dead Leave Behind begins during the Blizzard of 1888 in New York City. I was immediately drawn into the story as the main protagonist Prudence MacKenzie is anxiously awaiting word that her fiance has made it safely home. Prudence has just recently lost her fa
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Interesting. Good sense of the period (though to see Roscoe Conkling in a positive role was a surprise), and I liked the protagonists. I'm not sure it's a success as a mystery, but it's a good historical novel, so I'd read a sequel on that basis. ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: incomplete
This one kicked off just the way I like. It had some of the most beautiful descriptions of an icy winter and snowstorm that I have ever come across. Sadly, the book started to stall out somewhere around page 100, when Geoffrey Hunter appeared.

I found myself wishing that Geoffrey would go away. He was not a bad character, but he changed the direction of the story to me. I would have rather had this be a standalone where Prudence struggled to take down her stepmother by herself. You start to get
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Simpson is a "new to me" author but I love historical mysteries so I was excited to try this book. It was an engaging read with characters that were well developed along with the detailed descriptions of New York City in 1888. As this was the first book in the series I expected a slow pace as the characters and background had to be set for reader but it also continued to be slow until the midpoint of the story. All in all it was intriguing although nothing new or shocking in this tale of bla ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
208 ratings, averaging 4.1 stars! How is that possible fellow "Goodreaders"? Did we read the same book? Did the serial reviewers who live to receive free books inflate the star giving? However this happened will remain a mystery. Shall we ask Prudence and Geoffrey to investigate?

Here's what I think: the premise had promise, but the pace was too slow, the characters had no depth, the abundance of characters led to confusion, and the plot was too complicated and contrived. A relationship between P
I received this ARC from in exchange for a review.

From the book description "As the Great Blizzard of 1888 cripples the vast machinery that is New York City, heiress Prudence MacKenzie sits anxiously within her palatial Fifth Avenue home waiting for her fiancé’s safe return."

An intricate tale of murder and greed set in 1888 New York City. Well written with wonderful period descriptionset.

Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical
"What the Dead Leave Behind" is a historical novel set in 1888 in New York City. It's not really mystery genre since it's pretty obvious who the bad guys are. Even the main characters felt certain they knew whodunit and were attempting to prove it. Also, the reader gets to see things (including the murders) that the hero and heroine never see and some of which they never discover.

Some suspense was created by the repeated attempts to harm or kill the heroine. However, the author included so much
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What The Dead Leave Behind is the first book in the Gilded Age Mystery series.

I have to say that I consider this book one of the best that I have recently read.

The book starts on March 12, 1888, with a devastating blizzard bearing down on New York City and centers around the death of Charles Winwood.

Prudence MacKenzie is to wed Winwood in two weeks and is expecting Winwood to call on her in the evening with marriage settlement documents that she needs to sign in accordance with her father’s will
Linda Minich
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I cannot remember the last time I couldn't put a book down. I highly recommend this and I look forward to reading the sequel.
To get an excellent, detailed review make sure to read Julie's.
I'm a bit baffled by this book. Not the plot - that was straight forward enough - but the choices the author made. She somehow manages to ruin any tension in her own book...and I have no idea why. And then she repeats information as if it's new to the characters *multiple times*. For example. We, as readers, find out that Charles' death is a murder (not an accident) FOUR SEPARATE TIMES. First, there's the scene where the murder happens, then the scene where the mortician looks at the body and is ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The series had been recommended to me by a friend so I picked up the first book in the Gilded Age series. From the moment that I picked it up until I closed it on the final page, I was captivated by the story of young Prudence MacKenzie. The story begins with the real-life occurence of the Great Blizzard of March 1888 in New York City. In this book it all starts when a young man who is engaged to Prudence MacKenzie is cruelly beaten and left to die in the snow. From there we m ...more
Valerie Campbell Ackroyd
Partly Gothic but with an American setting

I was a great fan of Victoria Holt as a youngster. Books about heroines living in great danger in manors in England, menaced by stepmothers or other scheming relatives. Rescued by handsome men. This book has a lot of that kind of feeling except that it is set in New York City in 1888 and a few of the characters in the book did in fact exist such as McGlory, the Irish master criminal. The event that begins the book, the Great Blizzard of 1888 was also a r
Dec 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
I read a lot of historical mysteries that I give room to play fast and loose with the truth but this story takes a major real life person Roscoe Conklin, and makes him sympathetic to a person from the Confederacy. Really? Roscoe Conklin the super abolistionist who opposed Dred Scott and wrote the 14th and 15th amendments? Is going to be BFFs with someone from the Confederacy??? Hmm ok sure.

Also super bad is the treatment in this book of the Civil War and the Confederacy. The author seems pretty
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-fiction
“Face your enemies and your worst fears”. Prudence MacKenzie’s father, a highly respected judge in late nineteenth century New York City, taught his daughter well. After his death three months ago and a horrible accident in the Great Blizzard of 1888 that killed her fiancé, Prudence is devastated and trapped in her luxurious home with her stepmother (Victoria, her fathers second wife after the death of Prudence’s mother) and Victoria’s odious brother Donald. At the beginning of this book I was s ...more
Stormi (BMReviewsohmy)
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
New to me author but I can't wait to read the next one in this series and I really enjoyed this one.

It's 1888 and there is a blizzard going on outside and Prudence is worried about her intended as he is out in the horrible weather. She gets word that her fiance had perished in the snow and that it was an accident. Or was it? 

Prudence has never liked her stepmother and she is starting to think something is not right with her. She is warned not to take any more lauden from her stepmother or anythi
2020 bk 143. There are a lot of good historical mysteries out there, then there are the ones that stand out. This one stands out, but not likely with a lot of male readers. The story of women's right to make decisions about her own inheritance, where she lives, and how hard it was to develop a purpose beyond marriage and children is not one easy for anyone to read, let alone a male who might not want to believe this was the way it was. Our main character has suffered the loss of her father and f ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished my fourth book in Quarantine, and this one was right up my alley. What The Dead Leave Behind is an excellently done Victorian murder mystery. It takes place in New York City, and I must say my favorite part of reading this book was the historical accuracies. I love reading novels about the gilded age, but even better if I come across a murder mystery. I highly suggest this for any Victorian time period buffs because this book has its facts straight and is super well researched!
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Prudence MacKenzie is an heiress with no power, until her marriage to Charles, because her father's will leaves her in the guardianship of her obnoxious step-mother. Loyal servants are fired and replaced by villains. Then, Charles is murdered or was it an accident? Trapped by legal and social rules, Prudence struggles to find out the truth. No one will help her until an old friend of her fiancé steps up.

Geoffrey Hunter is an ex-Pinkerton and a Southerner. Even though it is 1888, New York has not
Stephanie A.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My mom recommended this to me, and I promptly stayed up half the night because I could not put it down until I finished, eyes glued to the page, drinking in the endless swath of details about privileged life in New York in 1888, from the beautiful architecture and furnishings of their "palatial" home to the dark side of power-grabbing that wealth creates.

Many different points of view are deftly utilized to illuminate different parts of the murder mystery (or mysteries) -- which is less about th
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
What really created my interest in What the Dead Leave Behind was the idea of Blizzard of 1888, and strangely, I finished the book a few days before the prediction of the huge blizzard to hit New York and the east coast in mid-March of this year.

Prudence McKenzie, still grieving over her father's recent death, awaits the arrival of her fiance as the blizzard sets in, covering New York in snow. Charles, however, will never arrive and will be one of the 200 bodies discovered on New York streets i
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Play Book Tag: What the Dead Leave Behind - Simpson - 3 stars 2 11 May 31, 2018 10:26PM  

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Rosemary Simpson's What the Dead Leave Behind is set in Gilded Age New York where the Great Blizzard of 1888 brings both disaster and independence to her wealthy and unconventional heroine. Lies that Comfort and Betray is the second in the Gilded Age Mystery series, to be followed by Final Portraits.

Rosemary is also the author of two stand-alone historical novels, The Seven Hills of Paradise and D

Other books in the series

A Gilded Age Mystery (5 books)
  • Lies That Comfort and Betray (A Gilded Age Mystery #2)
  • Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets (Gilded Age Mystery #3)
  • Death Brings a Shadow
  • Death, Diamonds, and Deception (Gilded Age Mystery #5)

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33 likes · 20 comments
“and a doctor had been in attendance, so there didn’t seem to be anything amiss that I could discern.” Warneke was taking great care with how he phrased his answers. “But there’s a reason why you particularly remember the Judge?” “He was a very well-known man, Mr. Hunter, often in the newspapers. His wife had begun to make her mark in society.” “Do you always know this much about the people you bury?” “Part of what we do is advise families on the most suitable services for the departed, tailored to the appropriate station in life. We assisted with Judge MacKenzie’s first wife, so we naturally assumed we would be serving the family again. There’s a certain comfort and trust in familiarity.” “I don’t remember much about what happened in the hours and days immediately after my father’s death, Mr. Warneke. By the time I was able to ask, I was told it would be better to remember him as he had been in life. I accepted that idea. Then. Now I want answers.” “I don’t wish to cause you undue pain, Miss MacKenzie. Or to reawaken your grief.” “I want the truth, Mr. Warneke. You may be one of the very few people who” 0 likes
“She’d always fallen asleep in a nest of words, one hand resting on a beloved favorite, the other curled into the pages of one of her father’s legal treatises or the latest volume from Mr. Henry James or the exciting Mr. Stevenson. It struck her quite suddenly that her new husband might not want to have to reach his bride by crawling over her drawbridge of sharp-cornered tomes. She pushed away the thought on the same breath as it occurred to her” 0 likes
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