Murder on Astor Place is the first book in Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series. The setting is NYC, the year is 1895 and when the novel begins we are introduced to Sarah Brandt, a young widow and nurse/midwife who lives in Lower Manhattan. Sarah grew up in a wealthy high society family who she has been estranged from for the past few years. We are also introduced to Frank Malloy who will become Sarah's detective partner in this 25 book series. Frank is a police officer with the NYPD. He is a gruff man made weary by life and, like Sarah, his spouse died a few years back.
Sarah and Frank first meet when a young woman, Alicia Van Damm, is found murdered in a boarding house on Astor Place. Alicia was pregnant at the time of the murder and that she would wind up dead in a boarding house is puzzling because she is the daughter of the wealthy Van Damm family. They are not eager to solve their daughter's murder, not wanting the scandal.
Sarah and Frank are not thrilled with each other. He sees her as a too sure of herself suffragette type. She sees him as a rude and coarse NYC cop who is probably on the take.. Nevertheless, Sarah and Frank are angry that no one seems to care about poor Alicia and so they decide to work together to find her killer.
I found Murder on Astor Place to be a really fine start to what I predict will be a well worth one's time historical mystery series. The author has done a very good job researching the time period of what 1890's NYC was like. Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy are an engaging duo that the reader will want to invest in and if my TBR list wasn't so long I would be up to tackling this 25 book series. That said, I plan to at least give the second novel in the series, Murder on St Mark's Place, a try.