Friday Book Whimsy: What the Dead Leave Behind

There are two era’s in which books take place that will suck me in every time, particularly if it is a murder mystery: a) I love the 1920s, just after WWI, when fun is the name of the game, and thoughts have not yet turned to the possibility of WWII; and b) the late 1800s in New York City, set among the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts and the Astors. There is just something I find so romantic about that era, despite the fact that women were definitely considered second rate citizens.

A new series by author Rosemary Simpson features a strong-willed woman who lives in one of the famous Fifth Avenue mansions. The night of the real-life Great Blizzard of 1888, Prudence MacKenzie awaits the arrival of her fiance Charles, who must travel through the blizzard to see her. He never arrives, and is later found dead. She soon learns that though her father left her all of his money upon his recent death, the will declares that in order to receive the money, she must be married to Charles so he can manage her fortune. Otherwise, the money goes to her father’s young second wife. Prudence suspects foul play when Charles is found dead and buried under snow with an Ace of Spades in his hand.

Soon, Charles’ long-time friend Geoffrey Hunter, a former Pinkerton agent, shows up. He not only knows the meaning of the playing card, but suspects, as does Prudence, that there is something sinister about her father’s young wife and her dispicable brother.

I liked the character of Prudence, because despite living during a time when women really did have no power, she used her wits and her money to her advantage. Her evil stepmother tries to control Prudence by keeping her under the influence of laudanum, and I found that prequel to today’s drug problems interesting.

A new Prudence MacKenzie novel has just been released, and I am looking forward to reading it.

Here is a link to the book.