Dead Ringer (Gaslamp Gothic #5)
by Kat Ross
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: December 13th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Retelling
Content Rating: Adult content including violence.
A poisonous secret.
A terrifying curse.
And a client she’d just as soon see dead in a ditch….
Summer 1889. Harrison Fearing Pell hoped for adventure when she signed on with the Society for Psychical Research as an occult investigator. Slogging through New York’s sewers in pursuit of a “mud man” wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. But the reeking monster terrorizing the dance halls of the Tenderloin leads her to an even more peculiar mystery — and the last man on earth Harry wishes to become entangled with.
James Moran is a prodigy in music, mathematics . . . and crime. Harry’s older sister, the famed detective Myrtle Fearing Pell, has vowed to put him behind bars. But Harry owes Moran a personal debt, so when he demands her aid she can hardly refuse. It turns out that the brilliant black sheep of New York Society is part of a secret club at Columbia College whose members have started dying in bizarre ways that may not be accidents.
Thus begins one of the strangest cases of Harry’s career, a tale of murder, cold-blooded revenge and fairytale bogeymen to make the Brothers Grimm shudder. As the bodies pile up, each preceded by sightings of the victim’s doppelgänger, Harry and her stalwart friend John Weston must race against time to save a man who arguably deserves his macabre fate.
If the X-Files were set in turn of the century New York Dead Ringer would make a great episode.
I’m not much of a fan of mysteries, but Dead Ringer is a tension-building fast paced story that has enough of the fantasy elements, plus good characters that kept me interested.
The whole Gaslamp Gothic series is very moody. The dark streets of the seedier parts of New York can practically be felt (I was just glad I couldn’t actually smell the sewers.) I could perfectly picture the stately manor of the Moran family and the Central Park gardens on a sunny afternoon. And I wanted to close my eyes with Harry when she is creeping up the steps and has to navigate the one squeaky spot. Mood in this book is 💯.
I enjoyed coming back to Harry and John after spending two books of the series centered on Gabriel and Anne. And although you could start with the The Daemoniac, the first book in the series, you don’t need to. Like a good Sherlock Holmes novel Dead Ringer carries its own weight, and although reading the other books will give you more of a backstory with the characters and world-building it isn’t necessary to enjoying this entry.
Kat Ross always has good characters in her books, as in deep, thoughtful well-written characters that you want to take out to tea and spend an afternoon talking to, even the criminal mastermind James Moran would be interesting company for an afternoon.
Harry and John have great chemistry and I hope their slow burn romance will have some big payout in a future book.
Dead Ringer is a moody gothic supernatural mystery that I think will appeal to readers across genre lines. It’s just plain good.
From the corner of my eye, I sensed him studying me. “What?” I snapped.
“You’re prettier than her.”
I didn’t need to ask who he meant. “Don’t waste your time with flattery,” I replied scornfully.
“It’s not flattery, simply a fact. And here’s another fact. She’s smarter.”
I scowled and Moran gave me a crooked little smile. “But not by much.”
Read my reviews of other books in this series:
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