Who killed the milkman?
Unlike other companies that keep cows in crowded and unhealthy conditions right in New York City and add things like chalk and plaster to make their milk look better, Clarence Pritchard’s milk processing firm delivers pasteurized, unadulterated milk from upstate farms. The Pritchards’ daughter, Theda, is married to Nelson Ellsworth, whose parents are neighbors of detectives Sarah and Frank Malloy (Murder on Union Square, 2018, etc.). Before they attend a dinner party at the Ellsworths’ home, the Malloys are warned that Pritchard is seriously nettled that the upcoming year of 1900 will not be celebrated as the turn of the century. When Pritchard’s body is found strangled on the first day of the new year (though not the first of the new century) after he’s spent the night pestering people about his theory, it’s clear that someone’s paid off the police to ignore the case. Theda demands an investigation by Malloy and his partner, Gino Donatelli, both of whom were New York police officers before Frank’s sudden wealth encouraged him to open a private investigation agency. Sarah, a former midwife from a society family, subsidizes a home for unwed mothers whose recent clients include Jocelyn Vane. Because Jocelyn’s wealthy parents won’t let her keep her child, Sarah hatches a plot to marry her to Black Jack Robinson, a handsome, wealthy, cultured criminal with aspirations to join society. Pritchard’s murder is still unsolved when his son, Harvey, is also strangled. Malloy discovers that Mrs. Pritchard had a longtime lover who poses as a family friend and that Harvey’s gambling addiction forced his father to allow someone to use their milk delivery wagons to move stolen goods. Since both deaths may be connected to deeper criminal enterprises, Malloy must be cautious in his investigation and rely on help from Robinson if he’s not to become the next victim.
Period details and charm abound in a mystery that packs some real surprises.