Murder on St. Mark’s Place (Gaslight Mystery #2)

by Victoria Thompson

**Major Spoilers: murderer revealed.**

Finishing my second of the Gaslight mysteries, I’ve decided that other than the promise of the overarching relationship building between our protagonists, and some promising subplots, the individual mysteries have little to offer me. The writing is too simplistic and basic. It’s all action and dialogue, with the occasional foray into a minor history lesson. There is nothing thought-provoking. There is no wit or humor. It reads like it’s written for a pre-teen except for the adult themes. Here is an example:

Sarah found this the most pleasant of all the rides at the park, so she readily agreed. The line was long, but it moved quickly since the wheel was large and held many cars.

Here is what passes for humor:

Sarah looked down from her perch the top of the Ferris wheel. The view indeed was breathtaking. She couldn’t seem to breathe at all.

Get it?
The killer is so obvious that I was dumbfounded by our heroine’s stupidity and blindness.

Sarah hadn’t thought of that. Another reason to ask Dirk to go with her. He’d know exactly how a man like that would behave since he himself was a man like that.

Exactly, Sarah, Dirk fits the profile of the Killer. But she doesn’t even suspect him until she is shown photographic evidence. She confronts him, but he gives her an alibi for one of the four killings, and she immediately decides he is innocent after all without even checking it out first. She confides some of the facts of the case by way of an apology and targets a witness who can identify him. A day later, Dirk murders the witness.

I killed her, Malloy, just as surely as if I beat her myself!” The tears were welling in her eyes, hot as lava, burning and stinging and begging to be shed.

Yes, you did, Sarah. You really did. You are an idiot. It’s too bad you can’t be prosecuted as an accessory.
Some things are baffling:

Sarah saw no need to blacken the name of the entire Schyler family by accusing their son of murder when he wasn’t able to defend himself.

Defend himself? He just made a full confession including the motive to beating 3 women to death, not to mention attempting to toss her off a Ferris Wheel, but fell off himself instead. What would be his defense? Pray tell.
It turns out that the original victim who got Sarah interested in the case was killed by her brother-in-law, who is a wife-beater, which Sarah has gobs of experience in identifying the symptoms and characteristics thereof. There is no doubt about it. Yet…

“You didn’t get those bruises from falling down the stairs,” Sarah said. “Someone hit you. Was it your husband?

Who else, Sarah? Who. Else.

Could Lars Otto have been the killer (of the first victim, his sister-in-law) all along? That would explain so much…

Including the bruises on his hands that same day. Ya think? And so on.
I hope I am not being too harsh. but this is one of the highest-rated in the series. There is a lot to like in the first two, but for me, a mystery has to have either an intriguing puzzle, or some wit and humor, or great descriptions or thought-provoking insights into social or psychological conditions. Or some snappy entertaining writing. I’m a sucker for a good romance, but the one in this is shaping up to be fairly predictable. I am interested in the subplots, including Sarah’s reconciliation with her wealthy snobby family. When she is not trying to solve a mystery, Sarah is likable and admirable. I can download the series from the library. So, who knows? I may be trying the next one, barring nothing better coming along. They are fast and easy, for sure.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

September 19, 2017

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