Bingo 24: Gaslight
Betrayal in the Bowery is set in 1889 NYC, meaning gas lights are very literally part of the setting. This is mostly a cozy murder mystery with sassy lady journalist Genvieve and her friend (probably romance partner in a volume or two) Daniel having to look into the mysterious death of a man who seems crazy running into the room on a steamship belonging to their just married friends and collapsing. It turns out Marcus (the dead man) has some connection to a bar where the standing dare is to spend the night and not die, and if you do, you win a little medallion. These medallions lead to a trail of suspects, possible new victims, a potential kidnapping, and various threats from evils/lives past. The mystery involves a possible haunted house as well, making it rather fitting for this time of year too.
I kind of like Genvieve as a lady trying to make herself get taken seriously by her male peers and boss; she’s assigned the society column (which in a way makes sense since she’s from the right kind of family to go to all the big high social events anyways), which she feels is beneath her, but her editor tells her has more to it than she thinks, and the twist is that it turns out he’s kind of right. Genvieve might get a little character growth from this, although she definitely experiences a major traumatic event towards the end that she’s gong to need to process, even if she doesn’t know that quite yet (Daniel does, as he directly tells her so; she ignores him). I think there’s good potential for her from the journalism side, although I can see the major personal breakdown coming a mile away; again, Daniel probably sees it to, and it’s going to be an annoying interruption to the next novel, but probably necessary before she can really focus on her career again.
Daniel doesn’t get as much personal growth since we got most of his backstory in the previous novel, but the times we do see into his head it’s obvious, even to him that he’s in love with Genvieve. At one point, when he (and most everyone else in the room) thinks he’s about to die, he makes sure to picture her so she’s the last thing he sees/remembers in his life. Genvieve probably likes him back, but she’s too focused on other things right now, which is understandable. The thing that worries me is that if the tension will they/won’t they isn’t done right, it’ll ruin the story. Every boy/girl detective partnership ever has done this, and destroyed the series when they finally get their tow leads dating. I’d hate for that to happen with this series too. I have a little hope based on how Esmie and Rupert’s relationship is handled; they’re the recently married couple who were basically told to marry by their respective families. It seems like they’re actually working on getting to know each other and may it works; little touches like Rupert gleefully visualizing how scandalized his mother would be to see Esmie learning to ride her brand new bicycle wearing basically a long skort, and encouraging Esmie in being a little more daring (turns out she might be into that), shows some actual attention to character and not just following the standard get together/break up or threaten relationship big time/repeat ad nauseum.