The Dead Cry Justice
A Gilded Age Mystery Book 6
November 30th, 2021
The Dead Cry Justice by Rosemary Simpson always involves a mystery, returning characters, and a social issue during the Gilded Age. This historical novel delves into a very tough and disturbing topic. But Simpson is such a gifted author and writes in a manner that does not go over the top. She realizes a line should not be crossed, leaving the subject matter up to the reader’s imagination.
“Each one of my Gilded Age Mystery books has a social setting, murder, and the two main characters. In this book it was the social exploitation of girls and women. It was a topic that needed to be addressed. The deeper I got into my research I realized there are a lot of parallels of what is happening now. At the time of my research Jeffrey Epstein was in all the papers.”
The story opens with the main character, Prudence MacKenzie, heiress turned sleuth with her partner, Geoffrey Hunter, contemplating if she should accept the offer to attend NYU’s law school. It is now 1890 and women are making strides, but she is not sure how she will be accepted among the students and professors.
While weighing her decision a street urchin steals her sandwich. A chase ensues leading her to a badly beaten girl. The girl’s eyelashes and eyebrows have been replaced with tattoos, her skin is bleached artificially white, and she has been repeatedly raped. A Quaker refuge for the poor agrees to care for the boy and girl, both to traumatized to speak. Somehow, they slip out. Prudence, with the help of Geoffrey and some other contacts, are determined to find the children. They visit orphanages, brothels, a photographer, newspaper journalist, and a house of dolls. Their only clue is a mysterious porcelain doll that oddly resembles the missing girl. To their shock, they discover other young girls in the same situation. They now have a race against time to find the children and the perpetrators before it is too late.
“The abuse was horrific back then. The girls felt homeless. It was emotional and physical. The girls were bleached, tattooed, made to take arsenic and lead, starved, drugged, and beaten. Parts of this are true today. There was a great deal of abuse. Usually, it was the women themselves who were blamed for the sexual exploitation. The clients were rarely blamed. I kept looking and looking for major outcries against this. No one wanted to admit that this horrible issue could exist. I wanted it to be believable and to be realistic in the historical context.”
This is an important issue to bring front and center since sex trafficking is still present today with very little coverage or outcry as it was in the 1890s. Readers will understand how Simpson brings to life the Gilded Age in New York City through detailed descriptions, real-life people such as Jay Gould, Jacob Riis, and Nellie Bly, and a riveting mystery.