Brooklyn on Fire is Book #2 in the historical Mary Handley mystery series by Lawrence H. Levy. When Book #1 was published, I really wanted to read it but I had so many books in my TBR pile that I knew I’d never get to it. I’m so glad I got a chance to read Brooklyn on Fire because my instincts were right – I love this character! Mary Handley is a smart, independent woman during a time when that was not accepted by 99.9% of U.S. society. How could you not like a woman that determined to not let anyone else dictate who she can be? On top of that, she’s in New York during its heyday and finds herself smack dab in the middle of a political conspiracy. And to make things even better, we’re hosting a pay-it-forward giveaway for a copy of Brooklyn on Fire that one of you will win.
A little background: In Book #1, it’s the late 19th century and Mary Handley, after being fired from her factory job, discovers the murder of Charles Goodrich, Thomas Edison’s former bookkeeper. The NYPD hires her as its first female policewoman to investigate the crime, intending her to fall flat on her face, but they had no idea who they were dealing with.
When Book #2 opens, Mary has left the police force (no spoilers about why) and has opened a private detective agency in the back room of a Brooklyn bookstore. In return for use of the space, she helps the proprietor, Lazlo, with customers as needed. She’s also acquired business cards which look very professional but so far she doesn’t have any clients. Women detectives aren’t trusted, even ones who solve murder cases concerning prominent citizens such as Mr. Goodrich.
Then Emily Worsham shows up and asks her to investigate her great uncle’s death. Although he supposedly had a heart attack, and it’s been years since he died, Emily is convinced it was murder and can’t rest until she knows for sure. Although Mary is concerned all evidence will have long ago disintegrated, a cold case is better than no case at all, so she promises to see what she can learn. And that, as Sherlock Holmes might say, is when the game really is afoot.
“Mary sympathized with this woman, but she wanted to avoid any further digressions in order to get to the facts of the case. ‘So you haven’t seen your uncle in about twenty years?’
‘Twenty-one to be exact.’…
‘That’s a very compelling story, but, again, how do you know it was murder?’
‘Everyone in Richmond knew the Yarringtons were social climbers, but it wasn’t until I was older that I heard about my uncle’s wife carrying on an affair with a much wealthier man. Divorce would have tainted her, and there was absolutely no chance my uncle would have given up his son. There was only one way out.’ Emily Worsham sighed. ‘So there you have it. I can pay you two weeks in advance if you’re amenable to it.’
‘That’s perfectly fine. And you’ve told me everything?’
‘Everything I know.’ And Emily Worsham was finally quiet.
‘To be honest, your story is full of unproven accusations, but considering what few facts we do have and your strong feeling, it’s worth investigating. When exactly did your uncle die?’
‘In the Fall of 1870. I’m sure you’ll find it was murder for profit.’
‘…Is your uncle’s widow still alive?’
‘Indeed she is…She’s remarried and living quite well now, on Park Avenue.’”
What Mary doesn’t know is how complicated this seemingly simple case can become. She thinks the worst thing she’ll have to face is disinterring a long-dead corpse and getting it examined if anything remains that can be examined. She can’t know that she’s going to land smack-dab in the middle of a high-society family scandal, find a trail of murders a mile long, become a pawn in a corruption scandal between Brooklyn and New York City political figures, become the focus for squabbling powerful figures like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, or become the love interest of a Vanderbilt heir who’s building a (now famous) retreat in the North Carolina mountains.
Because the hairpin-turn chase is the most fun part of this mystery novel, I’ve skirted over the synopsis more than usual. I’m not going to give away spoilers if I can help it – and there are just too many of them if I go into more detail. Let’s just say you’re in for the ride of your life with this novel!
Mary is whip-smart, and is determined to be independent and to make her own way on her own terms in life. That makes her life very difficult a lot of the time, and I had to admire her convictions as well as her relentlessness in sticking to her values. I kept wondering if she had been born in the 21st century, how would things have been different? Women had no real rights during her time – they couldn’t even vote – and were usually considered adornments for men, and to some extent possessions like a piece of furniture. That makes her very courageous to say the least. There are also a wide variety of male heroes and villains in this story, some of whom you’ll love and some of whom you’ll despise.
I devoured Brooklyn on Fire, and commend Lawrence H. Levy for creating a character I was immediately intrigued by. It helps that he also provides an insider’s look into the political and powerful society machinations that were so prevalent in New York during that time period…a time when Tammany Hall was a force to be reckoned with but not the only one by any means. I can’t wait to see what Mary gets into next because one thing I know for sure, this has the makings for a series I’m going to love for a long time to come!
Can’t wait to read it? Brooklyn on Fire is available now from your favorite online bookseller below. Just click the link and you can have it to read asap!
I’d love to get your comments on Brooklyn on Fire, Lawrence H. Levy and/or his other work, and/or this review.
One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance readers copy) of Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 2/13/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Linky, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
Once you’ve entered this book giveaway, check out our Welcome page for more book giveaways you’ll want to enter.