A Review of LET THE DEAD KEEP THEIR SECRETS by Rosemary Simpson


LET THE DEAD KEEP THEIR SECRETS by Rosemary Simpson is the third novel in the Gilded Age Mystery Series. The novel is due out on November 27th 2018 by Kensington. The first two novels in the series are WHAT THE DEAD LEAVE BEHIND (April 25th 2017 by Kensington Publishing Corporation) and LIES THAT COMFORT AND BETRAY (January 30th 2018 by Kensington).

 In late 1880s New York City, heiress Prudence MacKenzie is stepping far outside the boundaries of what is deemed appropriate for young ladies of quality. Prudence, along with ex-Pinkerton detective Geoffrey Hunter, are the owners and operators of a private detective firm. Their cases lead them all over the city - from the slums where the poor live in filth and poverty to the elaborate mansions of the wealthy - and into various dangerous situations. In LET THE DEAD KEEP THEIR SECRETS, Prudence and Geoffrey are hired by an opera singer who believes that her twin sister and her newborn daughter were murdered shortly after the child's birth. As Prudence and Geoffrey investigate the widower, Aaron Sorenson, they learn that not only did he quickly remarry following his first wife's death, but that his second wife is also pregnant and about to give birth. Prudence goes undercover as the second wife's companion, and then - when the second wife dies in childbirth - she sets herself up to be Sorenson's next victim.

 I want to start out by saying that I'm a huge fan of the Gilded Age Mysteries, Prudence MacKenzie, and Geoffrey Hunter. Rosemary Simpson brings the Gilded Age to life through her meticulous research. LET THE DEAD KEEP THEIR SECRETS is well-plotted, though sometimes it can be a bit unbelievable. The characters are interesting and well-developed. My only real complaints are that the narrative - which is provided through multiple characters' perspectives - occasionally bounces between various points of view within one scene. It can get a bit confusing and sloppy bouncing from one character's perspective to another all within the same scene. There was also no real secret about who the killer was, and some questions were left unanswered at the end of the novel.

 LET THE DEAD KEEP THEIR SECRETS involves one of the most fascinating customs from the Victorian Era - post-mortem photography. I have been intrigued by post-mortem photography (having photographs made of a deceased person since photography was still in it's infancy and not everyone was photographed while they were still alive) since I first learned about the custom, so it was a treat to have characters who were photographers that took photos of the dead. I especially enjoyed that the photographs of Aaron Sorenson's two deceased wives and their children were part of the evidence in Prudence's and Geoffrey's investigation.

 Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.