It’s autumn in 1888, the midst of America’s Gilded Age, and the world is agog at the shocking killings in London attributed to Jack the Ripper.

When similar crimes are committed in New York City, police are desperate to find the butcher before the press finds out and sensationalizes the killings. Mass panic would undoubtedly ensue.

Living in New York at the time are Prudence Mackenzie, a young, intelligent, and unconventional heiress who partners with former Pinkerton agent-turned lawyer Geoffrey Hunter in investigating such matters.

Nora Kenny is Prudence’s longtime friend. As girls they played together while Nora’s mother worked for Prudence’s mother. Now Nora occasionally travels on the Staten Island Ferry to work in Prudence’s Fifth Avenue mansion, just as her mother had done. Although the two have retreated into their respective social classes, their fondness for one another remains.

So when Nora’s butchered body is discovered in a local park, Prudence is devastated.

And determined to discover the truth.

When another and still yet another victim is discovered, each similarly gutted and left in a prominent location, not only are the police uncertain as to what they are dealing with, but so are Prudence and Geoffrey.This is the story that is told in Lies That Comfort and Betray by Rosemary Simpson, who previously authored What the Dead Leave Behind.

Obviously the killer is demented, but unlike other criminals, is also extremely smart. What links the victims together?

All are in their mid-twenties. All are pretty. All are in the early stages of pregnancy. At least two are Catholic and have recently been to confession.

As the days pass and the New York Metropolitan Police continue to flounder helplessly, Prudence and Geoffrey emerge as the powers who will unmask this brutal killer and protect the poor, vulnerable females being targeted.

Stokely Memorial Library now has Lies That Comfort and Betray. It’s a good read, somewhat gruesome, but challenging to the best mystery lovers.

Located at 383 East Broadway, Stokely Memorial Library may be reached by telephone at 423-623-3832. The library is open Mondays-Saturdays from 10-5.

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