Murder on Fifth Avenue: A Gaslight Mystery

BOOK: Murder on Fifth Avenue: A Gaslight Mystery
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M
URDER ON

F
IFTH
A
VENUE

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Victoria Thompson

MURDER ON ASTOR PLACE
MURDER ON ST. MARK’S PLACE
MURDER ON GRAMERCY PARK
MURDER ON WASHINGTON SQUARE
MURDER ON MULBERRY BEND
MURDER ON MARBLE ROW
MURDER ON LENOX HILL
MURDER IN LITTLE ITALY
MURDER IN CHINATOWN
MURDER ON BANK STREET
MURDER ON WAVERLY PLACE
MURDER ON LEXINGTON AVENUE
MURDER ON SISTERS’ ROW
MURDER ON FIFTH AVENUE

M
URDER ON
F
IFTH
A
VENUE

A Gaslight Mystery

Victoria Thompson

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2012 by Victoria Thompson.

The Edgar® name is a registered service mark of the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

FIRST EDITION:
May 2012

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Thompson, Victoria (Victoria E.)

Murder on Fifth Avenue / Victoria Thompson.—1st ed.

p. cm.— (A gaslight mystery)

ISBN: 978-1-101-58507-8

1. Malloy, Frank (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—New York (State)—New York—Fiction. 3. Brandt, Sarah (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 4. Midwives—New York (State)—New York—Fiction. 5. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. 6. Rich people—Fiction. 7. Fifth Avenue (New York, N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3570.H6442M867 2012

813’.54—dc22

2011052355

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

To my daughter Ellen,
for introducing me to Fifth Avenue

Table of Contents

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Author’s Note

1

“D
ETECTIVE
S
ERGEANT
M
ALLOY
?”

Frank hated answering stupid questions from goo-goos when he was in the middle of an investigation. He looked up from interviewing one of the employees of the warehouse that had been robbed last night. This brand-new police officer didn’t even look old enough to shave. “What?”

“I have a message for you from the chief.” The way he was puffing, he must’ve run all the way from Police Headquarters to deliver it.

“Which chief?”

“Chief O’Brien.”

Frank straightened. He didn’t dare ignore a message from the chief of detectives. The young man held out a piece of paper, and Frank snatched it from him. Unfolding it, he read the message.
Felix Decker requests your presence at the Knickerbocker Club immediately.
O’Brien had given the address and signed it.

Frank swore. Felix Decker might not be the richest, most powerful man in the city, but he was rich and powerful enough, and he knew all the men who were richer and more powerful than he was. He also knew the chief of detectives, the chief of police, and the mayor. Most of all, he knew Frank. And Frank knew Felix Decker’s daughter, Sarah Brandt, which was the real reason Decker knew Frank would jump when Decker called.

“What am I supposed to do about this?” Frank gestured to include the warehouse where he’d spent most of the day investigating the robbery.

“The chief said he’d send somebody else to take over.”

Of course he would. He’d send another detective who would gladly take over and get the reward for solving this case. As soon as Frank had located the thieves and negotiated with them, he would have split the reward with them and returned the merchandise. That’s how business was done in New York City, and everybody knew it. Another detective would be more than happy to take over his case.

Frank swore again.

F
RANK HUNKERED INSIDE HIS OVERCOAT AGAINST WINTER’S
late afternoon chill as he stopped on the sidewalk outside the Knickerbocker Club to catch his breath. The trip from the riverfront warehouse uptown involved more walking than Frank normally liked to do, but the jam of wagons in the city streets made it by far the fastest mode of crosstown transportation. Then he had boarded the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, the only truly fast mode of transportation in the city, squeezing into a packed car for the trip uptown. Another brisk walk over to Fifth Avenue, and here he was.

New York had hundreds of men’s clubs, few more exclusive than the Knickerbocker. Micks need not apply, nor much of anyone else, as far as he knew. Except for a few of the Jewish upper crust, membership was restricted to descendants of the original Dutch and English settlers of the city. Knickerbockers. Some said the nickname
Knickerbocker
came from the knee-length pants the early colonists wore. Others said from a story by Washington Irving. What did he care? Even though they allowed Jews to belong, he’d bet a year’s pay no Irish Catholic had ever crossed the threshold.

So why in God’s name had Decker set their meeting here and not at his office? Unfortunately, the only way to find out was to go inside.

He climbed the front steps and gave the imposing brass knocker a serious thump. The door swung wide, and he exchanged glances with a man got up for a fancy dress ball in his cutaway and stiff white shirt. Fortunately, Frank had been around enough rich people to know the fellow who answered the door was a servant, no matter how he might be dressed.

Frank opened his mouth to quickly explain his presence here before the butler could slam the door in his face—it had happened before—but the fellow said, “Mr. Malloy, Mr. Decker is expecting you,” before he could speak.

He stepped back to allow Frank to enter and took his hat and coat, then led him down a short hallway. Thick carpets muffled their footsteps, and Frank inhaled the scent of expensive cigars and old leather. Dark paneling covered the walls, and decorative light fixtures muted the glare of the electric lights. Nothing but the best. As they reached a small sitting room, he caught sight of Felix Decker, who was apparently trying to pace a hole in the expensive carpeting.

“Mr. Malloy has arrived,” the butler said, then took his leave.

The tall elegant man stopped instantly and strode forward, offering Frank his hand. “Thank you for coming so quickly, Mr. Malloy.”

As if he could have refused. Frank simply nodded as he returned Decker’s firm handshake.

“Please, sit down.” Decker indicated the chesterfield sofa. A liberal amount of silver threaded Decker’s fair hair, and his blue eyes held the wisdom and cynicism of age, although today they were troubled in a way Frank had never seen before. Decker took the closest chair and rubbed his hands together as if uncertain exactly what to do with them.

Felix Decker was upset. Frank didn’t think Felix Decker ever got upset.

“Have you been here before?” Decker asked.

“No.” Frank didn’t bother to explain his theory that he was the first Irish Catholic to ever enter the club by the front door.

“We aren’t a particularly old club,” Decker said. “We formed back in seventy-one, when some Union Club members felt the membership requirements there had become too liberal.”

Frank had no trouble believing that at all.

“I tell you this so you’ll understand the men with whom you’ll be dealing.”

Frank didn’t think Felix Decker was going to propose him for membership, so he couldn’t imagine needing to have any contact with the other members at all. “Dealing?”

“Yes, you see, one of our members was found dead here this afternoon.”

“Dead or murdered?” Simply finding somebody dead wouldn’t prompt anybody to send for a police detective.

Decker drew a deep breath. “At first we assumed he had simply passed away from natural causes. A bad heart, perhaps. He seemed to be dozing peacefully in his chair, but when one of the waiters accidentally bumped the chair and he didn’t react…Well, he was quite cold, so they knew he had been dead for a while.”

“But now you don’t think he just passed away.”

“No. You see, we sent for an undertaker. He was the one who noticed the bloodstain on the chair and then on Devries’s clothing. He quickly determined that he had been stabbed in the back.”

“So somebody here stabbed him?”

“Certainly not. At least we are fairly confident it couldn’t have happened here without Devries raising some kind of alarm, so it must have happened prior to his arrival. As far as I can ascertain, he appeared here sometime in the midafternoon and went to the library to read the newspapers. He complained to one of the staff of not feeling well. He asked for some brandy but only drank a small amount, and then he fell asleep, or so everyone thought.”

BOOK: Murder on Fifth Avenue: A Gaslight Mystery
2.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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