Into The Suffering City is a murder mystery set in Baltimore during the early 1900s. Doctor Sarah Kennecott strives to be accepted as a medical practitioner. Her fascination with pathology and her determination for justice has her joining forces with private investigator Jack Harden to solve a gruesome murder. The situation is complicated by politics as one of the suspects is currently running for the office of mayor; Jack has been given the difficult task of proving the man’s innocence. However, Sarah’s interest in new forensic research techniques might just give them a chance to solve the case.
Brimming with historical nostalgia, this story places the reader at the heart of this busy city. The author’s research shines through and you get a real feel for the bustling explosion of new inventions and changes across the wide spectrum of an American city at the time. However, a few times I felt there was too much of this type of detail and the narration dipped into historical lecture mode, as if the author had been determined that no element of research was wasted. It slowed the story, encouraging me to skip parts to get back to the investigation; I felt it could have been edited down in some areas.
I was intrigued by Sarah; treated as an oddity by almost everyone that she met, she was a most intelligent lady who was just socially awkward. The author’s notes explain his hopes of portraying autism in this story at a time before it was medically recognised. I know very little about this disorder but it didn’t put me off the character at all.
Recommended for those with an interest in this period of history or perhaps anyone intrigued to learn more about Baltimore.
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Baltimore, 1909. The city is jumping with danger and excitement. New thrills are everywhere: cars, cocaine, ragtime music, moving pictures. Old troubles also thrive, including murder, corruption, and the painful divisions of gender, class, and race.
Dr. Sarah Kennecott is on the autism spectrum—a trait that is unidentified and unappreciated at the time. Her passion is justice for murder victims, and after getting fired for looking too closely into the killing of a showgirl, she refuses to back down from the investigation. Sarah forms an unlikely bond with Jack Harden, a tormented, down-on-his-luck private detective. Jack pushes the case into Baltimore’s seedy underworld, a vitally corrupt realm of saloons, brothels, and burlesque theaters.
When Sarah and Jack pull the pieces together, they discover a stunning pair of secrets, each of which is worth killing to keep.
“Into the Suffering City” is a fast-paced, emotionally immersive story that combines originality and historical detail to explore the lives of people living in Baltimore during the early 1900s.