Murder on Union Square By Victoria Thompson: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Jun 16, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have a review of the latest Gaslight Mystery by Victoria Thompson, along with a fun interview with Victoria. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Murder on Union Square, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Murder on Union Square: A Gaslight Mystery by Victoria Thompson
Review by Sandra Murphy

Sarah, a woman with a monied and upper-class background, and Frank, an Irish ex-cop, are married and raising his son and a to-be-adopted daughter. To their dismay, they find the adoption is blocked by the fact that the girl’s father, Parnell, is alive. In fact, the man is not her father, but since he was married to the girl’s mother at the time, he’s listed as the father on the birth certificate. It’s a legal snafu that will take some doing to untangle.

Frank visits Parnell, an actor, who has no objection to the adoption, but they’re interrupted by a young actress who claims she’s engaged to Parnell. She demands money in exchange for the child, which is clearly illegal. Still, Frank and Sarah are set on making the girl an official part of the family. mystery book cover

When Frank returns to the theater with the money, it’s to find Parnell dead, beaten. While checking for a pulse, he gets blood on his shoes and clothes. The actress finds him in Parnell’s dressing room and screams that Frank’s killed Parnell.

Since Frank now has money, his ex-colleagues are more than happy to arrest him for murder at the scene. It’s a time when anyone with money can buy their way out of jail and conveniently arrange for the case file to be “lost” and never brought to court. However, Frank wants his name cleared and that means his detective agency has to find the real killer.

The agency consists of Gino, a former cop (Italians were not popular with the Irish cops), wife Sarah, her mother when the gentry angle is called for, Maeve, their nanny, and this time, Frank’s mother who follows show biz news.

Supposedly, the theater door is guarded, but the guard is often either missing or asleep. Actors arrive but don’t have to check in until they’re called to be on stage. Parnell was known to be a drunk, so he could have offended someone. There’s the Syndicate, a group that organizes tours for the shows and requires actors to work only for them. None of the actors in the current show are part of the Syndicate although there is pressure to join.

In a surprising turn of events, it’s found that the leading actress is more than too familiar with her leading man, Parnell, in spite of his rumored engagement. Since her husband is the producer, the situation is sticky to say the least.

This is book twenty-one in the popular series. It’s a nice change of pace to read about a time before technology—Frank doesn’t even have a new-fangled automobile—and to learn about class differences and how the gentry think themselves above the law. Each book is like catching up with old friends. Start reading here but be prepared to go back to the first to see how it all came about.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She writes about eco-friendly topics, pets and wildlife for magazines and reviews mysteries and thrillers for KRL. A collection of her short stories, published by Untreed Reads, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception can be found at all the usual outlets. Each one is a little weird and all have a twist you won’t see coming.

Interview with Victoria Thompson:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Victoria: I published my first book in 1985 and I started writing about three years before that.

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Victoria: My first novel was a historical romance, published in 1985. It was called Texas Treasure and it involved a buried treasure and a hot romance.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?

Victoria: No, my first 20 books were historical romances.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.

mystery author

Victoria Thompson

Victoria: My Gaslight Mystery Series was a concept developed by my publisher. They decided they wanted a series set in turn of the (20th) century New York City with a heroine who was a midwife. They asked my agent if any of her authors would be interested in giving it a try, and she thought of me.

My latest Gaslight Mystery, Murder on Union Square, is the 21st novel in that series. It is now 1899 in the series. My midwife heroine has married her police detective hero and they now operate a detective agency.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Victoria: I think all good fiction reveals something deeper about human nature. I enjoy pointing out that people who lived 100 years ago were pretty much the same as we are today, and they were also thinking about the same things we are still thinking about. Technology aside, we haven’t changed much.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Victoria: I try to write every weekday. It’s important to write regularly because your subconscious begins thinking about the work and helps you.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Victoria: I used to outline rigorously. Now I just figure out who the victim is and why five or so people would have wanted him or her dead. Then I start writing.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Victoria: I’d prefer to write in the morning, but after 20 years of working a day job and writing in the evening, I find I can’t really start writing until after lunch.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Victoria: I had five rejections before I finally realized my book was a romance and not a western and sent it to the right publisher. Then it got published right away.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Victoria: I once wrote a contemporary thriller that was rejected by literally every publisher out there. This was back in the 1990s when there were over a dozen major publishers. That book was optioned by a producer, and ABC picked up the option and wrote a script. The movie was never made, but I earned more on that unpublished book than I did on some of my published ones.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story, in a bookstore or other venue?

Victoria: I was signing at a mall bookstore, sitting at a table out in front of the store. A woman shopper was walking by, glanced at my table and freaked out. “I just sent you a fan letter!” I went home and found the letter. She had written to tell me how reading my book had gotten her through a really rough time in her life.

KRL: That’s awesome! Future writing goals?

Victoria: I recently launched a second series, the Counterfeit Lady Series, and I hope it will continue as well. I plan to keep writing the Gaslight Mysteries for as long as fans want to buy them. I’d like to keep writing for at least 10 more years.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Victoria: Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Victoria: After 21 books, I know a lot about turn of the century New York, but I still have to do research for each new book on whatever topics I’m covering in that particular book. I like to just pull some books off my shelf and start flipping through them until I find something that makes me say, “I didn’t know that!” If I didn’t know it, nobody else does either, so that’s what goes in the book. I often will stop and Google something while I’m writing, too. It’s so much easier than going to the library, which is what I used to have to do in the old days.

KRL: What do you read?

Victoria: I read a little bit of everything. I love crime fiction of all types, of course, but I also enjoy mainstream fiction, romance, and urban fantasy. I even read the occasional YA or science fiction.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Victoria: I enjoy all the British mystery shows and just recently subscribed to Brit Box because we’ve watched everything on Netflix.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Victoria: Read, read, read, and write the kind of books you love to read. Then learn your craft somehow. There are all sorts of excellent how-to books and online resources. I teach in Seton Hill University’s Master’s Program in Writing Popular Fiction, if you’re really serious. But the important thing is to learn as much as you can about writing. It’s not as easy as it looks.

KRL: Anything you would like to add? And what is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Victoria: I worked as a professional fundraiser for 19 years to support my writing habit!

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?


To enter to win a copy of Murder on Union Square, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “union,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 30, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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. Check out our new mystery podcast that launched on June 5.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. 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. Thanks for the chance to win this book. I have many books by Victoria Thompson and would love to read this one!

    faithdcreech at gmail dot com

  2. I remember being intrigued by this book when it first came out. I’d love to win a copy, thanks for the chance. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  3. Great review! Makes me want to find some of her books and start the series. I read some of her romances back in the day. And one of my first adult mystery series was Anne Perry, so I love period mysteries and I love the late Victorian, almost Edwardian period. This book sounds fascinating!

  4. Love historical mysteries and I keep intending to start this series but I am not a person who starts with Book One. So I am loving this contest.
    Thank you,

  5. I’ve read a lot of good things about this series, but I haven’t read any of the books. Would really like to read “Murder on Union Square”.

  6. We have a winner!

  7. Murder on Union Square what an awesome story. I just could not put it down.

    I love way Maeve and Gino interact with each other. I’m sure that they do respect each other. In that time period not all females were able to speak their minds. Sarah and Maeve can. Oh and Mrs. Decker seems to have come alive with helping Frank and Sarah with information as to who done it.May you never stop writing. Gaslight Mysteries.


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