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    MURDER AT BERTRAM'S BOWER by Cynthia Peale


    Doubleday, March 2001

    When one of the fallen women being cared for in Berthram's Bower is murdered, Caroline Ames springs into action--dragging her brother, Addington and friend Dr. MacKenzie along with her. When a second woman is killed, Caroline pushes harder against the advice of the police, her friends, and even the woman who manages the Bower. Victorian Boston offers little hope for women who have fallen from the pedestal and these brutal murders are almost certain to close one close to Caroline's heart.

    Addington and Caroline each pursue their own investigations with MacKenzie assisting first one, then the other. One of the women was pregnant--could this be the motive? A strange message, written in a code or language no one can understand, points to premeditation--or it may have nothing to do with the murder at all. A visiting English writer creates a stir when he claims that Jack the Ripper himself may have migrated to Boston where he is continuing his brutal attacks. As they uncover incriminating evidence, might Caroline become the next victim?

    Author Cynthia Peale (see more reviews of novels by Peale) has done a fabulous job integrating a sense of proper Victorian Boston with a well crafted mystery. MacKenzie is romantically drawn to Caroline despite, or perhaps because she steps outside the traditional female role, yet even Caroline is limited by the restrictions put on women. Addington feels an attraction for an unsuitable woman--an actress--that he cannot act on nor put out of his mind. These romantic elements both add to the character depth, the sense of history, and provide a context for the murders.

    MURDER AT BERTRAM'S BOWER started a little slowly for me. Once it got going, however, it held my interest completely.

    Four Stars

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