A police officer–turned–private eye is accused of murder.
Beating the odds against their unlikely union, Irish PI Frank Malloy and midwife Sarah, the eccentric daughter of a society family, have tied the knot and are hoping to adopt Catherine (Murder in the Bowery, 2017, etc.), the illegitimate child of late actress Emma Hardy, whom Sarah has been raising. Frank and Sarah are now extremely well-off, but there’s an obstacle: Because Emma was still married to an actor named Parnell Vaughn when Catherine was born, he is the child's father under the law, even though her actual father was a wealthy businessman who's also died. Vaughn is willing to sign away his parental rights, but his greedy girlfriend, Eliza Grime, insists on payment. When Frank goes to the theater where Vaughn is working to make that payment, he finds him beaten to death. Accused by Eliza, Frank is arrested but is soon back on the street, eager to prove his innocence. Scorning the few well-placed bribes that would ensure that his case never came to trial, he resolves to find the killer for his family’s sake. With help from his partner, Gino Donatelli, and their outspoken nanny, Maeve, who pose as reporters, Frank soon finds plenty of other candidates. Theater gossip indicates that Vaughn, a talented actor with a drinking problem, has been maintaining his position as leading man by servicing the leading lady, the well-respected Mrs. Adelia Hawkes, before each performance. It’s hard for the sleuths to believe that her husband, producer Baxter Hawkes, wouldn’t be jealous, but apparently this was a long-standing duty of all Adelia’s leading men. Even so, there’s enough jealousy around the theater to make it hard to pick out the motive for murder.
The exotic mores of New York circa 1900 furnish a colorful background for the veteran sleuths as they seek to unmask a killer;Thompson provides fans with an update on their favorite characters.