There are lots of reasons that Secret of the White Rose by Stefanie Pintoff is a satisfying murder mystery to keep one company on a spring night. Mood and atmosphere in 1906 New York City are just two of the reasons. The secrets behind a white rose and a Holy Bible being left at murder scenes are another. Pintoff’s characterizations of turn-of-the-century New York are spot on.
New York City residents and much of the country are riveted to the trial of anarchist Al Drayson who allegedly planted a bomb to kill industrialist Andrew Carnegie, but instead murdered five innocent people, including a child.
Criminologist Alistair Sinclair awakens Detective Simon Ziele with the news that an unknown assassin has cut the throat of Judge Hugo Jackson, presiding over the Drayson trial. The killer left behind a Bible and a white rose. Sinclair tells Ziele that Jackson was a long-time friend, but Ziele soon believes his friend is concealing something important from him. While the NYPD commissioner and the brass insist an anarchist murdered the judge, Ziele contends it’s too soon to rule out other possible candidates. Then two other men, a judge and a law professor, all one-time cronies of Sinclair’s, are murdered. The telltale white rose and Bible are left at the scenes of the crimes. A musical note with a coded message is also left behind each time.
As Ziele works day and night to uncover the killer and to save Sinclair’s life, he is torn between his desire to help his friend and to see justice done. While his crime fighting methods are unorthodox to say the least, the tough talking cop gets things accomplished.
A satisfying mystery mixed with historical fact makes this an intriguing read. As we move deeper into the 21st century, it’s even more fun to go back in time for pure entertainment. In this age of forensics and DNA, it’s interesting to see how crime-solving used to be done.