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Murder on Black Friday
A Gilded Age Mystery #4

by P B Ryan

      On 24 September, 1869 the gold market crashes, taking with it nouveau riche Philip Munro and impoverished Noah Bassett. Everybody suspects suicide, but Dr William Hewitt is not so sure. Will is now teaching "medical jurisprudence" (the 19th century term for forensics) at Harvard, and thus performs the autopsies on both men. Luckily, he knows Nell Sweeney, governess extraordinaire who can help him find out whodunit, although knowledge may come at a high price.

Nell and Will are a confirmed pair of amateur sleuths in this fourth entry in the popular Gilded Age series, and this makes the setting perhaps slightly cozier, but as usual, P B Ryan is spot on with her period detail. This is the best part about the series for me, as these books really do open a window into how both the high and low society of Boston operated. She thankfully doesn't shrink (Anne Perry style) from showing it, warts and all, and to reveal more would spoil the story. This is a fairly linear tale that could have done with at least one other plot strand to make it truly gripping, but with the historical detail, well-drawn characters and a faster pace than the other three books, it is probably the best entry yet.

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin Putnam)
November 2005
Historical Crime [1869, Boston]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006