Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy is an engaging and unique historical mystery. It is the first book in the Mary Handley mystery series. In 1876 at the age of twelve, Mary Handley saw a Frenchman play an interesting instrument in his railroad compartment. Mary later went back for another look and saw a man with a bowler hat leave the compartment. Mary looked in and saw the Frenchman was dead. The instrument was also gone. The Frenchman’s death was ruled a suicide despite Mary. Mary tried to tell them that he was killed, but the ruled it out to a child’s imagination.
In 1888 Mary is working at the Lowry Hat Factory and very unhappy with her job (she has a tartar for a boss). Mary is very intelligent, observant, and inquisitive, which is not a good trait in a woman in the 1800’s. Mary’s friend, Katie is upset over the death (murder) of her fiancé, Charles Goodrich. Charles was an accountant for Thomas Edison, but had quit the previous day. Charles had kept a journal with detailed records. There are many people who would like to get their hands on this journal. Chief Detective Patrick Campbell is a thorn in the police commissioner’s side and they would love to get rid of him. They insist that he hire a woman detective to solve Charles Goodrich’s murder (because of women that have been picketing outside the Second Street Station and the press they are generating). Chief Campbell hires Mary to be the first lady detective. Mary’s brother, Sean is an officer at the Second Street Station under Chief Campbell. Chief Campbell has noticed Mary’s intellect and skills in observation. Mary is thrilled to have a position that utilizes her skills and she has wanted to be a detective since she was twelve.
Mary sets out to find investigate Charles Goodrich’s murder. Mary gets to talk to Thomas Edison (someone she has admired for years), Nickolas Tesla, and J.P. Morgan. Mary manages to get drugged, clunked on the head, shot at, and get thrown from a horse trolley (of course, she was chasing a suspect using said trolley). Mary is very determined and she is not going to let anyone stop her.
Second Street Station is a wonderful book to read. The books had lots of wonderful twists and turns. I give Second Street Station 5 out of 5 stars. The only thing I did not like was the foul language that was sprinkled throughout the book (used mostly by Mary). I do not think it was necessary and did not go with the time period (it would be more in her character to use foreign foul language that would puzzle people). The history in the book was fascinating. I did not realize that cocaine was such a widely used substance in that time period. It was an ingredient in a wine called Vin Mariani and drunk by Thomas Edison. We, likewise, get a glimpse of the inventor of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton (which also contained small amounts of cocaine). This book grabbed me from the beginning and kept me hooked until the last page.
I received a complimentary copy of Second Street Station from NetGalley and LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program (from Broadway Books/Random House) in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own!
The next book in the Mary Handley Mystery series is Brooklyn on Fire. It will be released on January 19, 2016! I am looking forward to reading it!
It is hump day (I wonder who invented that)! I hope everyone is having an interesting week! I am currently reading The Darkness Within by Kelly Hashway. Have an enjoyable evening and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader