Terry has been reading Into The Suffering City by Bill LeFurgy
A most professionally presented book, which centres around the murder of a showgirl. Dr Sarah Kennecott is a doctor who happens to be on the autism spectrum, though of course this was not recognised in those days. She becomes fascinated with the case and can’t let it rest, despite much family and political opposition; she also has to contend with the attitude of the time towards professional, educated women. Through her passionate interest in Lizzie Sullivan’s murder, she becomes involved with Jack Harden, a down-on-his-luck private detective. This association is not looked upon kindly.
The author clearly has a great love for his subject, and I appreciated the pictures drawn of the development of this new city, with its excitement and opportunity, but also its dark side: corruption, narcotics, prejudices. It is most intelligently written (the author is a professional historian and archivist), and a most commendable debut.
The only problem for me with this book was that it lacked that spark that might have made it a real page-turner. I felt a lack of suspense, and didn’t become involved with the characters; they felt distant, and never became more than names on a page for me. This could be just personal taste, though, as I often struggle with third person characters written in the omniscient narrator style. I am sure that if the author works on his actual storytelling he could produce something marvellous in the future; the rest of it, I could not fault.
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.