Review of Deception by Gaslight by Kate Belli

And then there are some Historical Mysteries that just light up this reader’s heart.

I saw Deception by Gaslight on NetGalley and thought, oh that looks good, I’ll give it a try. I thought it would be a light read, hopefully even enjoyable. I did not expect to spend a couple hours on Mother’s Day lost in the pages.

Glittering Gilded-Age New York holds its lavish charms–and a litany of deadly sins–as intrepid reporter Genevieve Stewart uncovers a trail of corruption and murder.

As a chill sets in on New York City in the winter of 1888, a jewel thief dubbed the “Robin Hood of the Lower East Side” has been stealing from the city’s wealthiest and giving to the poor. Genevieve Stewart–a young woman whose family is part of Mrs. Astor’s famed 400 but who has forged a life of her own as a reporter–decides to chase the story, but gets more than she bargained for: a murder victim sprawled in a dark alley in the dangerous Five Points neighborhood. 

A handsome neighborhood tough comes to her rescue–but when she encounters the same man at a glamorous ball a few nights later, she realizes he’s society scion Daniel McCaffrey. Could this be her Robin Hood? When two more murders rock the Knickerbocker world, it becomes apparent that something much more sinister is afoot than a few stolen diamond necklaces. Genevieve is determined to prove that Daniel is Robin Hood–but she’s loath to believe he is a killer as well. From the glittering lights of Fifth Avenue to the sordid back alleys of Five Points, the truth is just one murder away.

Available for pre-order on Amazon.

  • Print Length: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (October 6, 2020)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2020
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services

The mystery is delicious and two-fold. We want to discover the identity of the intriguing Robin Hood who has been stealing extravagant, priceless items from the wealthy, exposing their wicked secrets to the newspapers, and giving proceeds to the poor. Robin Hood’s exploits, however, end up tied to murder, more than one, and that’s when the pressure mounts to discover who he is. But are the heists and the murders really related? The action is fairly fast-paced. The clues and red herrings are dropped at a good pace. It’s not at all straight forward and when the business dealings of some of the wealthiest members of NYC society is pulled in, things turn decidedly complex. But wonderfully so. Mixed in with the high and mighty members of the Astor 400 are also known gang leaders with political affiliations. This is a mystery that features high society, corrupt politicians, corrupt police, unscrupulous businessmen and gang members who feed off the suffering of their very own neighbours. The suspense is enthralling and I certainly worried for Genevieve’s safety, and that of Daniel’s too.

The first couple of chapters set the scene, introduce the characters and allow the readers to get a sense of the time period. As interesting as it was, I took a while to become immersed in the story as I tried to get accustomed to the setting, the writer’s style and the characters featured. By about 40% into the story, I was fully engrossed and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Genevieve comes from a rather eccentric and unique family. This makes sense as it’s not just any woman, especially one from her societal strata, who could be employed in a trade at that point in time. Yet, Genevieve cleverly uses her connections to follow her stories and employs her determination to get to the bottom of things. In her early twenties and with a failed engagement behind her, she’s almost an old maid. She has no desire to ever get married, unless, maybe, perhaps, there is a chance of actually falling in love.

Enter mysterious Daniel McCaffrey, the enigmatic heir to the Van Joost fortune. He has one foot in the doors of high society and the other firmly entrenched in the slums of New York City, from which he came. Readers are kept in suspense, begging to know the story of how his fortune came to be… and it’s quite a tale. Daniel and Genevieve make a formidable pair. The focus is firmly on the mystery but romance sparkles too.

One of my favourite things about historical fiction is discovering facts and stories I did not know about and want to explore further. In this case, I spent a little while looking up the Astor 400 and the Knickerbockers. I hadn’t heard the terms before and was quite intrigued by this peak into NYC high society towards the end of the 19th century.

Overall Deception by Gaslight is an informative and intriguing mystery tinged with just the right amounts of romance and suspense. I give it 4.5/5 espresso shots.

16 thoughts on “Review of Deception by Gaslight by Kate Belli

Add yours

  1. High praise from you.

    But imagine my wonder a lot of blogs have featured hist fic today… And you know how much I love and read this genre…

    I want to read something ghosty

    Liked by 1 person

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