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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Historical Medical Mysteries Starring Female Leads

Posted by Jessica W.
I have always loved historical fiction because there is such a variety of times and events that can be told from different points of view.  I also enjoy mysteries and the thrill of finding out “Who done it”. Both series that i am currently reading involve female main characters who use their medical knowledge to solve crimes. One series, the Lady Darby mysteries, follows Lady Darby as she uses her forcibly acquired medical knowledge to solve crimes in Scotland in the 1830’s with the help of inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. The other series I am reading is the Gaslight Mysteries.  These books follow turn of the century midwife Sarah Brandt as she continually finds herself involved somehow with a murder investigation run by New York City Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. Both of these series have romantic story lines but they definitely do not take over the main plot. So here is my list of mysteries with female protagonists with medical knowledge

Set in Scotland in the 1830s, this book follows recently widowed Lady Kiera Darby in her quest to clear herself as a murder suspect.  Kiera is immediately suspected after a guest of her sister’s party is found murdered.  She must then work with the handsome inquiry agent Sebastian Gage to clear her name and solve the murder.

This book is filled with period details and details of the beautiful surrounding landscape. The book moves along pretty quickly as various suspects are ruled out and the killer is finally caught.  I really like Kiera’s determination to solve the crime, not just to clear her name but to catch the killer.  

After her first investigation, Lady Kiera Darby travels with her family to visit old friends. While staying with the Dalmays, Kiera finds that her old art mentor, who she believed to be dead, had actually been in a mental asylum.  When rumors swirl of a missing girl and the possible involvement of her old tutor, Kiera is again involved in solving the puzzle.  With the help of inquiry agent Sebastian Gage and her own knowledge of the human body, Kiera must clear her friend’s name before it is too late.

I thought this book did a great job of showing the flaws of the mental asylum system in the early 1800’s.  The details about mental institutions of the time also made the book almost a little scary.  More of Kiera’s past is revealed in this book, which explains some of her motives in the investigations.  Again filled with wonderful imagery of the landscape and details of the time, the second book in the series is as good if not better than the first.

While delivering a baby, midwife Sarah Brandt sees someone from her past.  When she goes back the next day to check on her patient, she finds the girl she recognized has been murdered.  She then involves herself in Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy’s investigation into the young girl’s death.  Using her knowledge as a midwife as well as her well connected family Sarah works to bring the killer to justice.

Set in New York City in the early 1900s, the book is well researched and includes many details about the period.  I found that the social hierarchy of the city at the time was really interesting.  I also thought the corruption of the police department was intriguing.  I really liked the twist at the end.

Sarah Brandt delivers a baby to a poor tenement family only to find that the baby's Aunt Gerda has been raped, murdered and left in an alley. The police do not care much about a poor “charity girl” who was probably killed by one of her many beaus.  Sarah turns to Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy for help to further the investigation into the young girl’s death.  Together they are led all over New York City in hopes of catching a killer before anyone else dies.  

You learn more about Sarah and her relationship with her “old money” family in this book. This second book in the gaslight mystery series is much more fast paced than the first with more twists as well.  You also learn more about Detective Malloy’s home life and why he is so hesitant to trust Sarah.

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