A visit to New York shows Sam Blackstone that crime solving requires the same skills no matter the location.
The New York City police commissioner asks Inspector Blackstone, who’s been sent by Scotland Yard to pick up a prisoner, to help solve the murder of Inspector O’Brien, a crusader against the police corruption that runs rampant in the era of Tammany Hall. His only assistant is Detective Sergeant Meade, the former partner who worshipped O’Brien. The son of a well-to-do family, Meade may be the only other police officer in the city who can’t be bribed. Though Meade is certain that O’Brien was murdered by someone he was investigating for corruption, especially as all the relevant files have vanished, Blackstone keeps a more open mind. As he’s introduced to politicians, thieves, prostitutes and shoals of crooked policeman, he’s amazed to learn that the city is run on a system of bribes and rewards. A visit to the home of the wife and children O’Brien left behind leads to an important break when their maid, who initially seems unusually upset, cuts her wrists and dies proclaiming that O’Brien’s death was her fault. Blackstone’s long experience (Blackstone and the Heart of Darkness, 2007, etc.) leads him to a very different solution than Meade ever imagined.
Spencer’s procedural, set in the bustling New York City of 1900, offers a fresh venue for the hero and provides a satisfying twist at the end.