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The Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy series.
What is Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery series about?
Victoria Thompson was the bestselling author of historical romance novels before turning to crime! Now, she explores her love for life in the 19th Century by writing the Gaslight Mystery Series and the Counterfeit Lady Series for Berkley Prime Crime.
This article is about The Gaslight Mystery series which is about Sarah Brandt, a midwife in the turn-of-the-20th-century.
More precisely, these stories follow Sarah Brandt, whose family is one of the oldest in New York City, and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy as they work together, dealing with birth and death in this brutal and evolving society, at a time when Teddy Roosevelt was Police Commissioner (like in The Alienist).
Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery Books in Order:
Every book in the Gaslight Mystery series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Murder on Astor Place – After a routine delivery, Sarah visits her patient in a rooming house—and discovers that another boarder, a young girl, has been killed. At the request of Sergeant Frank Malloy, she searches the girl’s room. She discovers that the victim is from one of the most prominent families in New York—and the sister of an old friend. The powerful family, fearful of scandal, refuses to permit an investigation. But with Malloy’s help, Sarah begins a dangerous quest to bring the killer to justice—before death claims another victim…
- Murder on St. Mark’s Place – Thinking that she has been summoned by German immigrant Agnes Otto to usher a new life into the world, midwife Sarah Brandt is greeted by the news of an untimely death instead. It seems that Agnes’ beautiful younger sister, Gerda, had fallen into the life of a “charity girl”. Caught up in the false glamour of the city’s nightlife, she would trade her company and her favors for lavish gifts. And now she was dead – victim, no doubt, of one of her “gentlemen friends”.
- Murder on Gramercy Park – At a summons from Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy, midwife Sarah Brandt arrives at the elegant home of famed magnetic healer Edmund Blackwell to find his wife in labor – and the good doctor dead from an apparent suicide. Only Malloy sees what no one else wants to: that Blackwell was murdered in his own home.
- Murder on Washington Square – Sarah Brandt is surprised when the son of her superstitious next-door neighbor asks for her professional advice. She is even more surprised to learn that mild-mannered Nelson Ellsworth has a mistress and has gotten her with child. When the young woman later turns up dead under the infamous hanging tree in Washington Square, Nelson is the prime suspect.
- Murder on Mulberry Bend – The Prodigal Son Mission on Mulberry Bend stands as a refuge for girls who otherwise would have to live by selling the only thing they have of value—themselves. The work being done there so impresses Sarah that she volunteers to help out however she can. And when one of the girls is found dead and refused burial because of her former life, Sarah’s passion for justice is aroused.
- Murder on Marble Row – When an explosion kills wealthy industrialist Gregory Van Dyke, Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt presumes that anarchists are responsible and personally asks Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to track them down. Malloy is up to the challenge – but he faces a different kind of challenge when he encounters Sarah Brandt paying a condolence call on the Van Dykes.
- Murder on Lenox Hill – When the affluent Lintons of Lenox Hill summon Sarah Brandt to examine their teenage daughter, their worst fear is confirmed: she is with child. The pregnancy is a mystery, however, as the young woman—mentally still a child herself—is never left on her own and denies that any man has ever hurt her. It’s a delicate situation, casting suspicion on those close to the Lintons, including their beloved minister, the Reverend Oliver Upchurch.
- Murder in Little Italy – When midwife Sarah Brandt visits Little Italy to check up on a new mother who delivered her baby just the day before, she finds the young woman dead. The family insists that the death was from complications of childbirth. Sarah disagrees. So does the woman’s own mother, an Irishwoman who spreads the story that the girl was murdered by her Italian in-laws, the Ruoccos – an accusation that inflames tensions between the two immigrant groups.
- Murder in Chinatown – In Chinatown to deliver a baby, Sarah Brandt meets a group of women she might otherwise never have come across: Irish girls who, after alighting on Ellis Island alone, have married Chinese men in the same predicament. But with bigotry in New York from every side, their mixed-race children are often treated badly, by the Irish, the Chinese—even the police. When the new mother’s half-Chinese, half-Irish, 15-year-old niece goes missing, Sarah turns to DS Frank Malloy.
- Murder on Bank Street – In the four years since her husband’s death, midwife Sarah Brandt has become an angel of mercy in the tenements of turn-of-the-century New York. Now, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy has taken up the task of solving the murder of Dr. Tom Brandt. But the shocking revelation he discovers may destroy Sarah-and Malloy’s hopes for any future with her.
- Murder on Waverly Place – Midwife and sleuth Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy must protect Sarah’s mother from scandal after she tries to contact her dead daughter during a séance that sends one of the attendees into the afterlife. But first, they have to determine how the woman was murdered in the pitch dark when all the suspects were holding hands.
- Murder on Lexington Avenue – When Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy is assigned to investigate the murder of an influential man in the deaf community-presumably because his own son is hearing impaired-midwife Sarah Brandt lends a hand, only to find herself searching for a killer in an unfamiliar world where those who can hear refuse to listen to those who cannot.
- Murder on Sisters’ Row – Summoned to an elegant house to deliver a baby, Sarah Brandt finds her patient is actually in a brothel. The young woman in labor reveals she is being held against her will and forced to prostitute herself—and that the madam intends to get rid of the baby. To rescue the new mother and her infant, Sarah secures the assistance of Mrs. Vivian Van Orner, a woman of means known for her charitable work. But their success comes at a high price when Mrs.Van Orner is found murdered.
- Murder on Fifth Avenue – Sarah Brandt’s family is one of the oldest in New York City, and her father, Felix Decker, takes his position in society very seriously. He still refuses to resign himself to his daughter being involved with an Irish Catholic police detective. But when a member of his private club—the very exclusive Knickerbocker—is murdered, Decker forms an uneasy alliance with Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to solve the crime as discreetly as possible.
- Murder in Chelsea – Sarah Brandt is shattered when she learns that a woman has inquired at Hope’s Daughters Mission for Catherine, the abandoned child she has taken as her daughter. The woman claims she was Catherine’s nursemaid, now acting on behalf of the girl’s mother to reunite them. Unwilling to simply hand Catherine over to a complete stranger, Sarah asks Malloy to investigate. But when he goes to interview the woman at her tenement in Chelsea, he finds she has been murdered.
- Murder in Murray Hill – Frank Malloy has never known any life other than that of a cop, but his newfound inheritance threatens his position on the force. While trying to keep both his relationship with Sarah and his fortune under wraps, he’s assigned to a new case—finding a missing young woman who had been responding to “lonely hearts” ads in the paper before she disappeared. Malloy fears the worst, knowing that the grifters who place such ads often do much more than simply abscond with their victims.
- Murder on Amsterdam Avenue – Frank Malloy has never known any life other than that of a cop, but his newfound inheritance threatens his position on the force. While trying to keep both his relationship with Sarah and his fortune under wraps, he’s assigned to a new case—finding a missing young woman who had been responding to “lonely hearts” ads in the paper before she disappeared. Malloy fears the worst, knowing that the grifters who place such ads often do much more than simply abscond with their victims.
- Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue – Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy and Sarah Brandt aren’t the only ones who’ve recently tied the knot. Family friend Mrs. O’Neill was delighted when her daughter, Una, wed the seemingly wealthy and charming Randolph Pollock. But there’s a problem. Una was found cradling her dead husband’s body. Rendered mute by the ordeal, she cannot explain what happened and now stands charged with murder.
- Murder in Morningside Heights – After spending his first few weeks as a private detective by investigating infidelities of the wealthy, Frank has a more serious case at hand. Abigail Northrup of Tarrytown, New York, was her parents’ pride and joy. After graduating from a prestigious women’s college in Morningside Heights, she took a job there as an instructor. She also joined the ranks of the New Women, ladies planning for a life without a husband in which they make their own decisions and make a difference in the world. Unfortunately, her murder ended all that.
- Murder in the Bowery – Frank Malloy’s latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards. When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased. Frank can’t be sure if Estelle’s risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.
- Murder on Union Square – Sarah and Frank Malloy are enjoying married life and looking to make their family official by adopting Catherine, the child whom Sarah rescued and has been raising as her daughter. The process seems fairly straightforward, but at the last minute, the newlyweds discover that Parnell Vaughn, Catherine’s legal father, has a claim on the child, and his grasping fiancée is demanding a financial settlement to relinquish parental rights. Even though exchanging money for a child is illegal, Frank and Sarah’s love for Catherine drives them to comply.
- Murder on Trinity Place – The year of 1899 is drawing to a close. Frank and Sarah Malloy are getting ready to celebrate the New Year at Trinity Church when they notice Mr. Pritchard, a relative of their neighbor’s behaving oddly and annoying the other revelers. Frank tries to convince Pritchard to return home with them, but the man refuses and Frank loses him in the crowd. The next morning Sarah and Frank are horrified to learn Pritchard was murdered sometime in the night, his body left on Trinity Place, the side street near the church.
- Murder on Pleasant Avenue – A victim is found, brutally murdered and the police are certain they’ve caught the killer. Their only suspect: Gino Donatelli. Frank and Sarah know Gino is innocent but the police have a one-track mind. Once Frank struck it rich and left their ranks taking Gino with him, there has been a simmering resentment in the department. And now, someone has pulled out all the stops to make it look like Gino is the only one who could have committed the crime.
- Murder on Wall Street – Reformed gangster Jack Robinson is working hard to bolster his image in Gilded Age New York City society as he prepares to become a new father. But when Hayden Norcross, the man who nearly ruined his wife, is shot in cold blood, Jack knows the police will soon come knocking on his door. Frank Malloy has to agree—things don’t look good for Jack. But surely a man as unlikeable as Hayden had more than a few enemies. And it’s soon clear that plenty of the upper echelon, as well as the denizens of the most squalid areas of the city, seem to have hated him.
- Murder on Madison Square – Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won’t manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way.
- Murder on Bedford Street – Hugh Breedlove is far from the most agreeable client private investigator Frank Malloy has ever had, but his case is impossible to refuse: his young niece, Julia, has been wrongfully committed to an insane asylum by her cruel and unfaithful husband, Chet Longly. Though Breedlove and his wife seem more interested in protecting the family reputation than their niece’s safety, Frank and Sarah agree to help for the sake of Julia and the young son she left behind.
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