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Gaslight Mystery "Murder on Washington Square"

Brick houses on Washington Square North

For Valentine's Day, I received Victoria Thompson's first two Gaslight Mysteries - Murder on Astor Place (1999) and Murder on St. Mark's Place (2002) - and I am hooked. Recently I bought numbers three and four in the series: Murder on Gramercy Park (2001) and Murder on Washington Square (2002). As you might have guessed from the series and book titles, the mysteries are set in early twentieth century New York City neighborhoods.

In Murder on Washington Square, the woman protagonist, Sarah Brandt (Mrs. Brandt), meets a friend in Washington Square. She narrates the landscape as follows:

As always when she was here, Sarah's gaze instinctively found the house where she had been raised. It sat on the east side of the Square, perched like a middle-aged woman who still bore signs of her previous beauty but who was beginning to show the inevitable effects of age. Sarah knew the place had become a boardinghouse after her parents sold it. The Deckers had moved uptown to escape the rising tide of immigrants whose lodgings were encroaching the Square on the south side. But it would always be her home....across the expanse of green grass, the large fountain sparkled in the fading sunlight. Put there to provide water for thirsty horses, it also provided an oasis of beauty amid the harsh brick and mortar of the city. Sarah's bedroom window had looked out on the fountain, and she'd spent many hours as a young girl watching it.

Fountain and Arch, Washington Square Park

More about Washington Square Park at the Washington Square Park blog and the Arch at the NYC Parks website.