Drawing on my own history for Murder on Pleasant Avenue

May 20, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Victoria Thompson

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and links to purchase it.

Writing Murder on Pleasant Avenue was a joy on several levels. First, it is the twenty-third book in the Gaslight Mystery Series, so every book in that series is kind of a miracle because I never expected the series to last beyond six books! So that’s exciting.

The second reason I enjoyed writing this book is because it features my favorite ethnic group: the Italians. My paternal grandparents emigrated from Italy as teenagers over 100 years ago, but my grandmother died young, so I never knew her, and I didn’t know my grandfather well. Most of what I know about them is second hand, but even that is fascinating. From the census records, we know that my teenaged grandfather lived in a boarding house, and my grandmother’s father lived in a boarding house next door. My great-grandfather had four daughters, and he brought them over one at a time, and then finally brought his wife to America. Two of his daughters married the sons of the family he was boarding with and my grandmother married the boy who lived next door. Arranged marriages? Most likely! But I know my grandfather dearly loved his wife from the touching inscription on her headstone.

The third reason I loved writing this book is because it features Maeve and Gino, who are usually secondary characters in the series. A few years ago, they actually got their own book, Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue, and it was fun to give them a slightly larger role in this story, too. In this book, Gino is falsely accused of murder, and his friends must find the real killer to save him. Fans have been nagging me for a while now to get the Maeve and Gino together, so this was a great opportunity for them to grow a bit closer as a couple. Will they or won’t they? Since I started my career writing romance, you can rest assured that they will eventually get a happy ending. I just won’t promise how soon that will happen!

Victoria Thompson

The final reason I enjoyed writing this book is because I got to dispel some myths about the mafia in it. Murder on Pleasant Avenue features The Black Hand, an early criminal group that preceded the mafia but was not actually connected to it. The Black Hand terrorized people by kidnapping women and children and selling protection. The mafia, who came along later, started out by counterfeiting, loan sharking, and running a lottery (i.e. the numbers racket). The Black Hand eventually faded into history while the mafia grew more powerful. What most people don’t realize is that both groups got their start by preying mostly on other Italian immigrants.

In Murder on Pleasant Avenue, I got to show some Italian family life and enjoy vicariously what I missed because I never knew my grandmother. Did you have any relatives who are immigrants to America? Do you have some happy family memories you’d like to share?

Murder On Pleasant Ave

When midwife Sarah and detective Frank Malloy’s friend and new partner Gino Donatelli is accused of murder, he and Sarah must catch the real killer to keep him alive, in this enthralling, new novel in the USA Today bestselling Gaslight Mystery series.

A young woman is missing in the upper Manhattan neighborhood called Italian Harlem and everyone knows who’s responsible—the Black Hand, a notorious group known for terrorizing their own community with violence and kidnappings. Gino and Frank set out to learn more about the disreputable gang and soon find a lead, a saloon-owning gangster named Nunzio Esposito.

Gino hates that a fellow immigrant would stoop so low and decides to confront his wayward countryman. But he quickly discovers the man can’t be reasoned with—because he’s been murdered. The police have only one suspect: Gino Donatelli.

Frank and Sarah know Gino is no killer, but someone has pulled out all the stops to make it look like he is guilty. They also must now face the Black Hand, who are honor-bound to avenge the death of one of their own.

With evidence mounting against their friend and a group of bad guys out for blood, Sarah and Frank race to unravel a treacherous plot before Gino’s time runs out…

To enter to win a copy of Murder on Pleasant Avenue, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “pleasant,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 30, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week!

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Victoria Thompson is the USA Today bestselling author of the Edgar® and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series and the Sue Grafton Memorial Award finalist Counterfeit Lady Series. She has published twenty-six mysteries. She currently teaches in the Master’s program for writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I am drawn to Victoria Thompson’s books starting from the covers that invite me to enter her wonderful stories. Thanks so much for including her latest on your blog.

  2. This would be a new author and series for me, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

  3. Thank you! The covers for the Gaslight Series have always been beautiful, so I’m glad to hear readers like them as much as I do!

  4. Sounds interesting. I like the focus on secondary characters. Count me in!

  5. This sounds fascinating! I’d love to read it and learn more about the history of the time.

  6. This sounds so interesting. The history of Italian immigrants is a great theme. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Murder on Pleasant Avenue. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  7. I love this series. The commitment and mutual respect and the humor even in the face of terrible problems are inspiring!

  8. I’m glad you didn’t stop at 6 books for this series! It’s a fun series that always teaches me some history about our country’s earlier days! Congrats on book 23! Please start book 24 – I hate the wait!!? And if I’m drawn for a free book I will jump for joy since I’m 50+ in line when it hits the library!? Thanks for a wonderful series, Victoria!!

  9. sounds like a great addition to the series. Looking forward to reading.

  10. I’m a big fan of the Gaslight series. And I agree with others here that the covers are great.

  11. I have become obsessed with this series but can’t afford to get the hardcover book. Will have to wait until the mass market paperback comes out. I hope I win this so much.

  12. We have a winner!


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