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Haunting NY City History Mysteries: Murder on Millionaires’ Row & Gin and Panic

13 Mar

I always enjoy a good mystery series, but I find historical mysteries have the added charm of an interesting setting.  Since Hoboken is right across the river from New York City these especially caught my fancy since they depicted familiar haunts as they might have been years ago. These two books also have added some added spookiness with possible ghosts.  I hope you’ll check them out and enjoy them as well!

Murder on Millionaires’ Row
by Erin Lindsey
Millionaires' Row
Set in the end of the 1880’s this new historical mystery series includes a dash of gaslight fantasy.  In Murder on Millionaires’ Row, Rose Gallagher is a housemaid of Irish descent who yearns for bigger things than the small tenement apartment she grew up in Five Point.  Then her boss – who she has a crush on – disappears. It’s in searching for him that she finds she might just have the adventure and life she always dreamed of.  With ghosts and other supernatural elements giving a gothic feel, this novel should appeal to fans of Leanna Renee Hieber’s Eterna Files series which I had written about in a previous blog post.  Some elements of romance and other plot points setup a way in for other books in the series, which I look forward to reading when they are published in the future.  Lindsey’s clear love of her adopted home shines through in the interesting historical details she sprinkles throughout the work.

Gin and Panic
by Maia Chance
I enjoyed Gin and Panic so much that I immediately went back and checked out Come Hell or High Ball, the first in this flapper era Discreet Retrieval Agency Mystery series.  Lola Woodby is a former socialite who manages to scrape by in Prohibition Era NY with the help of her former Swedish Cook, and now PI partner.  In Gin and Panic Lola and Berta head to a Connecticut estate to try to retrieve a rhinoceros head hunting trophy to its “rightful” owner, but soon their services are being retained to solve a possible murder.  Lola isn’t sure if she is being menaced by someone living or dead when she is attacked in the course of her investigation.  The light hearted humor of the novel will have you at the very least smiling, if not laughing out loud. If you enjoy the period setting of the series and feisty female detectives make sure to check out my favorite Phryne Fisher series set in 1920’s Australia which had previously been written about.

Looking for more novels with historical settings check out my post about mysteries set in the 1930’s.  Have a favorite historical mystery of your own?  Share it with us in the comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Great Stories/Horrible Characters: The Sky is Yours and Yesterday

26 Dec

Two of my recent speculative fiction reads both focused on people I found myself disliking despite enjoying the books.  Check them out and see what you think!

The Sky is Yours
by Chandler Klang Smith
Fans of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian post-apocalyptic works such as Oryx and Crake and The Heart Goes Last should enjoy The Sky is Yours.  The Sky is Yours is a very creative and beautiful written story with characters that I found myself disliking intensely.  Interestingly the author seems to have written them purposefully that way, comparing them in an interview to the characters in The Magicians series, which we had noted in the book discussion group here at the library are quite a contemptible bunch.  The Sky is Yours focuses on a former reality star, Duncan Humphrey Ripple V and his new wife Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg and Abby, a wild girl who Duncan met after he crashed in a garbage dump.  Duncan and Swan are wealthy and spoiled, but the city they live in is crumbling around them burned by the twin flames of dragons that ceaselessly circle the sky.  I thought it was interesting that Smith chose to focus on the characters she did.  Sometimes I found myself wishing I was following the exploits of more likeable individuals, but I thought it was an interesting change not to be focusing on people who are innately good and deserving as so often happens in speculative fiction especially those that feature the fairy tale like quality that The Sky is Yours sometimes has.  It made me wonder how I would feel about a story like say Harry Potter if it had focused on the Slytherins instead of Harry and his friends.

by Felicia Yap
In the alternate universe of Yesterday people are divided by how much they remember: monos remember one day and duos remember two.  The main characters of the novel are a mixed marriage of mono and duo couple, the husband’s mistress, and a detective attempting to solve the mistress’s murder.  Only the detective truly came across as sympathetic to me; he is a mono pretending to be a duo so that he can keep his job.  The vindictive mistress especially was unlikable, but she was one of those villains you love to hate.  I enjoyed the twists the mystery took and I thought the fact that the detective was trying to solve the case in one day so he would remember all the details he learned vividly added an interesting dimension.  I also always think it is interesting to see how society can be divided in ways that we currently do not such as with memory since it provides another lens to look at the divisions we have in our own society; another example of this would be Jasper’s FForde’s Shades of Grey series which divides people by the colors they see, which I had written about in a previous post.  When I was discussing the novel with one of the library’s staff, she recommended the movie Memento for those who are fascinated by the concept of memory.

What are some fictional characters you love to hate?  Recommend their books in the comments.

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