What the Dead Leave Behind
by Rosemary Simpson
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books
Released: April 25, 2017
Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
As the Great Blizzard of 1888 cripples the vast machinery that is New York City, heiress Prudence MacKenzie sits anxiously within her palatial Fifth Avenue home waiting for her fiance's safe return. With daylight, more than two hundred people are found to have perished in the icy winds and treacherous snowdrifts. Prudence's fiance is found frozen, his head crushed by a heavy branch, and clutching the ace of spades.
Her fiance's school friend, Geoffrey Hunter, is an attorney and former Pinkerton agent. Both Prudence and Geoffrey suspect Charles's death was no accident, especially happening so soon after her father's sudden death. Prudence turns to Geoffrey to help her prove the murderer and protect her inheritance from a stepmother intent on controlling Prudence's share of the family fortune.
What the Dead Leave Behind is a historical novel set in 1888 in New York City. It's not really mystery genre since it's pretty obvious who the bad guys are. Even the main characters felt certain they knew whodunit and were attempting to prove it. Also, the reader gets to see things (including the murders) that the hero and heroine never see and some of which they never discover.
Some suspense was created by the repeated attempts to harm or kill the heroine. However, the author included so much historical detail that the pacing was too slow to sustain a feeling of suspense. The slower pacing and attention to detail will appeal to fans of historical novels (though I noticed a couple details I suspect are inaccurate).
The characters were interesting, and the hero was gallant and generally clever. But the main characters were slow to make some obvious connections and ask some important questions of people who would have been happy to answer. The heroine assumed things rather than re-assessed what she knew based on new information.
She also kept telling herself that her step-mother underestimated her, but I felt like the heroine overestimated herself. She had potential, but she didn't act logically or even consistently. She panicked at one point and forgot something vital that had just happened. A few scenes later, she somehow located a weapon she didn't know existed and acted heroically. So...does she fall apart easily under stress or think clearly and act decisively when under threat? Sometimes she acts one way and sometimes the other.
The author would shift point of view in the middle of a paragraph and sometimes jumped in time in a way that left me briefly confused. At the end, the bad guys weren't handed over to the courts (though they were stopped). There was a brief homosexual sex scene. There was some bad language.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.