Doubleday, Mar 2001, 22.95, 336 pp.
In 1892 South End Boston, police officer Joseph Flynn discovers the horribly slashed body of twenty year old Mary Flaherty. The victim worked as a secretary to Agatha Montgomery, the head of Bertram's Bower, a place for wayward women. Mary lived in the Bower. The next evening, someone brutally murders Mary's roommate Bridget Brown in the same manner.
Besides her near mental collapse from shock, Agatha's reputation as well as that of her brother Reverend Randolph Montgomery takes a beating with the two homicides. Her close friend Caroline Ames, a once a week teacher at Bertram's Bower, persuades her brother Addington to investigate the murders even though Inspector Crippen will object. With the help of their border Dr. John MacKenzie, the sleuths begin to unravel dark secrets that place the intrepid trio at risk of becoming the next victims.
MURDER AT BERTRAM'S BOWER, the second Ames Victorian mystery (see THE DEATH OF COLONEL MANN) is a fascinating historical tale that brings the gay nineties to life. Although the use of actual past events and items add depth to the tale, the plot belong to the characters, especially Caroline, who are warm, lively, and caring. The subplot of a budding romance between Caroline and John augment the feel of authenticity. The budding romance, along with a fine who-done-it will appeal to sub-genre fans.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner