reviewed by Gail Byrd
This is a light adventure through the streets of New York back in the days when gaslights illuminated streets and buildings, horse drawn carriages were the primary mode of transportation, and social laws were central to how a person behaved. Flying in the face of those laws is Genevieve, a member of one of the wealthiest families in the city, who has managed to finagle a job as a reporter for the newspaper.
Joining Genevieve is Daniel, a young man who was brought up in the Bowery and had the great good fortune to be adopted by a wealthy New York man who sent him to Europe to school. When Daniel’s benefactor died he left his entire estate to Daniel who is now extremely wealthy but who still retains some of his connections to the criminal and impoverished people of the Bowery.
It’s almost the turn of the century, what’s known as the “gilded age” of New York and Genevieve along with Daniel are once again plunged into an adventure that involves members of the Astor 400, New York’s aristocracy, along with some of Daniel’s enemies from his Bowery days. The adventure begins when Genevieve and Daniel are seeing their friends, Esmie and Rupert, off on a transatlantic voyage that is both a honeymoon and a trip to introduce Esmie to Rupert’s family and show her his estate in England. A former suitor of Esmie runs onto the ship and into Esmie and Rupert’s suite, screaming about a beast, and then dying in front of Esmie. It is almost immediately apparent the man was murdered and to make things worse, the detective assigned the case makes it clear he suspects Rupert. They are ordered to disembark and remain in New York until the case is resolved and all four young people know this detective typically decides who he thinks is guilty then sets about looking for things that will prove his point of view. Not an auspicious beginning for the newlyweds.
Before Genevieve and Daniel can get started on helping Esmie and Rupert out of their situation, they are approached by another member of the New York aristocracy who asks for their help in finding his daughter. He tells them she is missing, and he is afraid she is being held against her will. As Daniel and Genevieve begin to investigate, it becomes apparent that a man from the Bowery is involved, and an arch-enemy of Daniel’s also has had a hand in this situation.
From this point on, the adventures are numerous and filled with various degrees of danger, not to mention occasionally flying in the face of social laws which could see Genevieve permanently ostracized. These take them from seedy nightclubs in the Bowery to an abandoned mansion on the East River, to a Brothel run by Daniel’s cousin.
Just when you think you know exactly where the book is going and what Genevieve and Daniel are going to do, there is a twist that sends them down a different path or turns everything they know upside down. The final twist leads them both into grave danger and Daniel into a confrontation that may cost him his life. All of this takes place against the backdrop of Genevieve and Daniel’s attraction to one another which neither is willing to acknowledge.
There are numerous twists throughout the book, some the reader may anticipate and some which will likely catch you unaware. The investigation is also filled with danger, rescues, and close calls which pull the reader through the book at an ever-increasing pace. The writing is engaging and while this is the second book in the series, it is not necessary to have read the first one to enjoy this one. If readers like series, it is recommended they read them in order as some information revealed in this novel may act as spoilers for the first novel.
My thanks to Crooked Lane Book for the advanced copy which made this unbiased review possible.