A shocking #MeToo story set in an era when women had no chance of being believed.
Private detective Mary Handley (Last Stop in Brooklyn, 2018, etc.) has married reporter Harper Lloyd. Since their baby girl, Josephine George Handley, arrived in March 1896, Mary’s cut back on detecting. But she maintains in office in the bookstore of her friend Lazlo, and that’s where William Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, asks her to help him recover a stolen manuscript. Mary agrees to deliver the $4,000 the thieves have demanded to a meeting place in Prospect Park. The sellers never show, but someone accosts Mary as she leaves the park and tries to steal the money. Mary, who has a black belt in jujitsu, easily overpowers him, but she’s attacked from behind by someone else and awakens to find her husband—whom she'd left at home, writing and watching Josie—shot dead. Blaming herself, she’s devastated until her friend Patrick Campbell, a retired police chief, visits and encourages her to use her skills to find the men who killed her Harper. Meanwhile, Mary's acquaintance with Theodore Roosevelt, who as president of the police commission is determined to root out corruption, entangles her in the case of Stanford White and James Breese, respected society figures accused of drugging and raping a 15-year-old. The police, who don’t believe the girl, have refused to investigate, though their society friends generally acknowledge that White and Breese are guilty. But few of them care about the fate of lower-class women above the age of consent, which is 10. Mary, who’s worked for many famous people, meets Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell, who agree to help her with the manuscript thieves and the rape case. The failure of Mary’s daring plan leaves it to fate to exact revenge.
Famous figures of the period spice up a fine mystery that takes on a problem still making headlines.